The gist: This week, some local health experts say that the recent ebbing of COVID-19 case and death counts in the region could hint at what the new normal looks like. That news comes as vaccines appear to be approaching approval for kids under 5, and many parents aren’t sure if they want the shots for their children. Meanwhile, another COVID summer is arriving, and Philly-area folks are being left to decide what’s safe for ourselves.

📥 Tell us: If you have kids under 5, will you be getting them vaccinated once the approval comes? Send us a note, and we’ll share some responses in next week’s newsletter. Please keep it to 35 words.

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— Nick Vadala (@njvadala, health@inquirer.com)

Local COVID cases show signs of ebbing. What did the latest wave teach us about a new normal?

After steady increases since the end of March, COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and showing signs of declining — and the latest case and death counts in the region could mark a turning point in the pandemic. At least locally, area health experts say, we could be getting a look at the possible new normal with how COVID circulates.

What you need to know

💉 Kids under 5 years old are expected to become the last age group in America approved for vaccines later this month, but many parents aren’t sure if they want the shots, or how quickly.

⛱️ As another COVID summer arrives, we’re being left to decide for ourselves what’s safe — and decisions are ranging from skipping summer activities altogether to completely returning to pre-pandemic activities.

💸 Pandemic-induced changes to Philadelphia’s economy are contributing to a debate on how to change the city’s tax structure. Many support that undertaking, but there’s less agreement on what needs to be done.

🧑‍🏫 The pandemic exacerbated problems teachers have long faced, with some 313,000 having left the profession since March 2020. And now, there may not be enough new instructors to take their places.

☎️ Suicide deaths in 2020 were lower than in 2019, despite concerns that the pandemic would lead to an increase — but still 22% higher than in the 1990s. Next month, a new mental health emergency number will launch, with some hoping it can be a catalyst for larger changes.

Local coronavirus numbers

📉 Coronavirus cases are decreasing in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Track the latest data here.

Helpful resources

What you're saying

Last week, we asked if the pandemic is changing how you’re celebrating summer holidays. Here’s what you told us:

🍖 “My family and I are celebrating Juneteenth day outside, and thanks to the city of Philadelphia for allowing us to be able to get COVID home test, we are asking everyone to test themselves before coming to the cookout that day.”

A dose of diversion: Can you beat Philly’s 16-game ‘Jeopardy!’ champ, Ryan Long?

Mount Airy’s Ryan Long beat out 33 people during a 16-game run on Jeopardy!, ending his winning streak on Monday with nearly $300,000 in prize money. But now, the question is: You think you can do better? We’ve chosen a mix of 10 questions he answered during his time on the show. All you’ve got to do is outscore him.

🏀 When Adam Sandler was in town making the newly released basketball drama Hustle, he took a break from filming to play a little hoop at Imhotep Charter — but his bulldog, Bagel, had to wait outside.

🎉 After two years of going virtual, the Odunde Festival is back in person — and here is everything you need to know to celebrate it.

🦪 You like oysters? Good. The Philadelphia Water Department wants you to eat even more of them, as long as you save the shells for a special project they’re working on.

A good thing: The PHS Flower Show is back, outdoors again

The Philadelphia Flower Show is returning to FDR Park for the second year in a row this weekend — a change prompted by the pandemic last year, when they moved the show outdoors to the beloved South Philly spot. Here, we’ve got everything you need to know, from hours and ticketing to activities and events.