TL;DR: SEPTA is on its way back. Regular weekday and weekend service levels on most bus and trolley routes, as well as the Market-Frankford, Broad Street, and Norristown High Speed Lines, will return the week of May 17. And a local neurosurgeon wrote about the strength he sees in his colleagues.

— Allison Steele (@AESteele, health@inquirer.com)

What you need to know

📣 A group of protesters rallied at City Hall to demand that Philadelphia officials lay out a timeline for reopening businesses. See photos from the demonstration here.

🔒 As state officials prepare to lift some coronavirus-related restrictions for 13 counties in the Pittsburgh region, Gov. Tom Wolf has extended the stay-at-home order for the Philadelphia region to June 4.

☑️ Facing an unprecedented worker shortage for the upcoming election, Philadelphia wants the state to cut a lot of polling places — or send the National Guard to help.

🏥 An aide to Vice President Mike Pence has the coronavirus, the second person in the White House complex known to have tested positive this week.

⛪ Philadelphia Police Cpl. James O’Connor IV, who was shot March 13 trying to serve an arrest warrant, was laid to rest in a service had been delayed due to the pandemic.

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.

After weeks of operating on a bare-bones “lifeline” schedule, SEPTA will restore most transit services beginning May 17. The transportation authority also will bring back front-door boarding and fare collection on buses and trolleys. But don’t expect everything to go back to normal yet: SEPTA will keep up social distancing measures, including rider limits, and bus and trolley riders can expect seats to be marked off to promote social distancing. Some routes will continue running on a reduced schedule; others will remain suspended.

“This should not be interpreted as SEPTA’s ready to run full speed ahead,” said assistant general manager of operations Scott Sauer.

Healthcare workers know that PPE protects them, wrote Patrick J. Connolly, a clinical associate of neurosurgery at Penn Medicine, but faced with a new virus, some wonder if it is enough. Still, Connolly said his colleagues have shown courage and optimism. “Some media reports characterize health workers as scared or frightened,” he wrote. “Everyone I’ve encountered in our hospital has been intrepid and professional in a challenging work environment.”

Helpful resources

You got this: Restock your pantry

Dolores Bologa, 60, of Fairmount, gathers groceries at Iovine Brothers Produce Market in Reading Terminal Market.
TYGER WILLIAMS / Staff Photographer
Dolores Bologa, 60, of Fairmount, gathers groceries at Iovine Brothers Produce Market in Reading Terminal Market.

Experts say you should try to keep some extra food on hand in case you become ill and can’t go to the store. So if you’re healthy and you already ate your emergency food stash, here are some reasons why now might be a good time to think about building it back up.

💗 Watch this video of Gritty spreading cheer and parading through Delaware County on a firetruck in his first public appearance since the pandemic began.

👐 If you feel your parents aren’t taking social distancing guidelines seriously, you’re not alone.

☮️ Feeling stress from the pandemic? Here are some easy techniques for breathing through it.

Have a social distancing tip or question to share? Let us know at health@inquirer.com and your input might be featured in a future edition of this newsletter.

What we’re paying attention to

  • Sen. Pat Toomey called to reopen the country faster, telling Breitbart News that America’s political leaders are “overstating the danger” of the virus and underestimating the economic damage.
  • The Dutch have an extensive list of expletives, and many of the words used to yell at someone are medical, as detailed by Atlas Obscura. “Get the corona” is already in rotation.
  • MIT Technology Review explains how COVID-19 conspiracy theorists are exploiting YouTube culture and drawing millions of views while spreading misinformation.

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