TL;DR: Pennsylvania’s journey to inoculate the commonwealth against COVID-19 began at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Monday. Health care workers are among the first to receive doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine called Monday “a new chapter in this fight.” Though the COVID-19 vaccine wasn’t tested in pregnancy, experts say it’s still worth considering if you’re expecting.
What you need to know:
💉 New Jersey’s first 76,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine arrived Monday and will be administered at University Hospital in Newark on Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said.
🏥 Hospitals in Philadelphia and its suburbs said about 200 people are on ventilators due to COVID-19, the highest level since June. In early fall, as few as 13 patients were on ventilators.
👃 With the onset of dry, wintry weather and heaters running full blast, humidification is another strategy to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Why? Experts say moisture helps the nose filter viruses.
⌛ Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the U.S. could reach “herd immunity” against the coronavirus by late spring or early summer depending on the efficiency of the vaccine rollout.
📡 Philadelphia is expanding free internet access to families who may be having trouble affording it. The expansion comes as they city’s public schools remain fully virtual.
🧪 Save Philly Restaurants, a grass-roots lobbying effort, has secured free weekly rapid testing for all employees of the Philadelphia restaurant industry.
📰 What’s going on in your county or neighborhood? We organized recent coverage of the coronavirus pandemic by local counties and Philly neighborhoods mentioned in the stories to make it easier for you to find the info you care most about.
Local coronavirus cases
📈The coronavirus has swept across the Philadelphia region and cases continue to mount. The Inquirer and Spotlight PA are compiling geographic data on tests conducted, cases confirmed, and deaths caused by the virus. Track the spread here.
With a brief prick of a needle, Pennsylvania’s journey to inoculate the commonwealth against COVID-19 began Monday. Charmaine Pykosh, a nurse practitioner, was among five frontline workers at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to receive Pa.’s first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Philadelphia is set to receive an additional 13,650 doses, and Einstein Hospital reported Monday it had received its first doses. Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine called Monday “a new chapter in this fight.” But she reiterated that the general public likely won’t be vaccinated before the spring.
As health-care workers prepare to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine starting this week, a CDC committee recommended pregnant workers be allowed to decide with their doctors whether to receive the vaccine. Pregnant women were not included in Pfizer’s vaccine trials, but about two dozen people who got the vaccine became pregnant while participating in the studies. None reported complications. Paul Offit, a pediatrician who directs the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said there is no “real or even theoretical risk for pregnancy or the unborn child.” Still, for pregnant women unwilling to be inoculated, “the best thing you can do is mask and social-distance,” Offit said.
Symptoms of COVID-19, flu, common cold, and allergies can overlap. How to tell the difference.
These 8 principles of social distancing can help you figure out what you can and can’t do.
The coronavirus is mainly transmitted through the air. Here’s how to tell if your ventilation is OK.
How does the virus affect your entire body?
Here’s what to know about traveling safely during the pandemic.
You got this: Help others
Tis the season to lend a helping hand. Every winter, local organizations seek donations that will help keep people experiencing homelessness warm. My colleague Grace Dickinson rounded up more than a handful of shelters and organizations that welcome cold weather donations, including scarves, hats, blankets, gloves, and socks.
👩🍳 Cook alongside Philly’s top chefs in their home kitchens with these virtual classes.
☕ Nutcracker tea parties on Zoom, new Sesame Place drive-through, and more to do with stir-crazy kids this week.
🥃 Need a sip of holiday cheer? Inquirer restaurant critic Craig Laban shares 16 great whiskeys.
Have a social distancing tip or question to share? Let us know at email@example.com and your input might be featured in a future edition of this newsletter.
What we’re paying attention to
Can celebrities spur acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine?, Stat asks.
From healthcare worker to patient: The Los Angeles Times chronicles the COVID-19 death of a surgical tech while quarantining in a hotel room.
The pandemic hasn’t stopped this Indiana school district from suing parents over unpaid textbook fees, ProPublica reports.
Enjoy getting our journalism through email? You can also sign up for The Inquirer Morning Newsletter to get the latest news, features, investigations and more sent straight to your inbox each morning Sunday-Friday. Sign up here.