The gist: New coronavirus case counts have remained steady for weeks now across the Philadelphia region after last month’s delta-variant-driven surge. Vaccination remains key to helping drive the numbers down further. But that continues to be a problem. On Wednesday, Philadelphia extended its Oct. 15 deadline for health-care workers and higher-education students and employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, citing requests from many employers for additional time for their staff to get shots. Just last week, tens of thousands of the city’s home health care aides remained unvaccinated, and nursing homes across Pennsylvania have failed to achieve an 80% vaccination rate among staff members. These low rates will become especially problematic as the temperatures cool and other respiratory viruses begin to circulate.

— Kelly O’Shea (@kelloshea, health@inquirer.com)

COVID-19 isn’t the only virus that poses a threat for winter

Winter looms, and with it comes uncertainty not only about the possibility of another COVID-19 resurgence but also about the severity of flu season in a society that has shed many mitigation measures. With the reopening of schools and offices and increased socialization, flu is expected to be more rampant this year, some experts say. And if both coronavirus and influenza surged at the same time, hospitals could be overwhelmed.

What you need to know:

🦠 Will getting a breakthrough case of COVID-19 boost your immunity without a third shot? Experts say probably.

🚌 Pennsylvania is seeking to recruit more school bus drivers amid an ongoing shortage.

💉 Federal health officials estimate COVID-19 vaccines saved the lives of 39,000 U.S. seniors between January and May of this year.

🍴Outdoor dining streeteries in Philadelphia could become permanent under Councilmember Allan Domb’s proposal.

🎓 To entice students to follow COVID-19 protocols and keep them in-person, Philly-area universities are offering everything from free tuition, laptops, and concert tickets to pizza parties and therapy dogs.

🍺 Philly’s bars were put through the wringer. Are they back to normal? My colleague Jenn Ladd explores how the pandemic has affected the drinks scene.

Local coronavirus numbers

📈 Coronavirus deaths in Pennsylvania have remained steady over the past week. Track the latest data here.

Helpful resources

A dose of diversion: Something spooky this way comes

From haunted houses at Eastern State Penitentiary to candlelit ghost tours, Philly has plenty of options to help you celebrate spooky season. We rounded up 11 Halloween attractions, ranging from the kid-friendly to the possibly paranormal.

🎃 From ice cream to vegan doughnuts, here’s where to get pumpkin-spiced treats in Philadelphia. (Get more food tips by signing up for our Let’s Eat newsletter.)

💪 A one-minute exercise routine to help older people stay strong.

🍷 Grab a glass and explore these 10 wineries near Philly that are worth a day trip.

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