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What COVID-19 has taught us about medicine | Morning Newsletter

And, the lawsuit that could overturn a different election.

First: The coronavirus taught medicine so much, this year and quickly. We’ve chosen 10 highlights.

Then: You’ve probably heard the one about that lawsuit or 50 to overturn the election targeting mail ballots. They didn’t get anywhere. But this one, which isn’t about the presidency, could.

And: And before you go out tomorrow for last-minute supplies, here’s our complete guide to what’s open and what’s closed in the Philly area on Christmas Day.

We hope you’re able to take some time for yourselves as we close out this hectic year, and Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating tomorrow. We’re taking a short holiday break, too, and will be back in your inbox on Monday, Dec. 28.

— Ashley Hoffman (@_ashleyhoffman,

A particle just nanometers in diameter has had an immeasurably extensive reach around the world when it came to medical discovery.

In the effort to understand this virus that spanned the planet, we’ve learned 10 valuable lessons as its destructive path diverted in directions no one expected, how it ensnared our health care system, and even where we could find hope. There’s still much to be understood, but it’s been a year of groundbreaking progress at a breakneck pace.

So as we prepare to end 2020 and start 2021, we’re going through 10 highlights.

As we close out a year of headline-making election lawsuits, there’s a tense court battle being waged over a few dozen monumentally pivotal Pennsylvania mail ballots that will determine the election winner.

It’s over a state Senate seat, and the dispute zeroes in on 2,349 late, erroneous ballots. The Republican challenger is arguing that procedural county discrepancies violate the Constitution. Experts say this high seat is just the beginning of the decision’s impact that could clarify a big mess of a question, per data and democracy reporter Jonathan Lai’s story.

Answering that question could even have implications for a historic presidential election years before this one.

Helpful COVID-19 Resources

  1. When can I get the vaccine? Can my boss require it? Is it safe? And more common vaccine questions.

  2. Here are the updated coronavirus case numbers as COVID-19 continues to spread across the region.

  3. Here’s your pandemic safety guide to the holidays that covers just about everything.

  4. What to know before visiting someone who’s recovered from COVID-19.

  5. Is it safe to travel this winter? If you are traveling, here’s a full breakdown on how to stay safer away from home wherever you stay and however you get there.

  6. What are the first symptoms of the coronavirus and what are the differences between COVID-19, the flu, a common cold, and allergies?

  7. Even for people with severe allergies, the COVID-19 vaccine could be a wise decision, experts say.

  8. Sign up to get free coronavirus news updates in your inbox three times a week.

What you need to know today

  1. People are hunkering down, but you wouldn’t know it if you looked around Philadelphia Airport where they’re expecting many people who have never been more eager to get out of town to pack their bags and fly. Here’s how high the estimate of people deciding to travel is compared to the beginning of the pandemic.

  2. Vaccinating health-care workers where they work has been relatively smooth sailing so far, but this is how the challenge of getting seniors over 75 vaccinated in a matter of weeks could be a very different story.

  3. New Jersey OK’d an unusual measure that requires many nonprofit hospitals to pay per-bed fees to their local governments, while preserving their controversial property-tax exemptions. It may be the first state to impose this on nonprofit hospitals, and it’s a hotly contested area of the law.

  4. Temple ended its master’s in urban education devoted to enhancing participants’ understanding of inequalities within the school system. Faculty and alumni are not happy.

  5. Trying to revitalize Norristown has taken years. Explosive developments in the works could change that.

  6. There’s a scientific reason why teens may process a COVID-19 diagnosis differently than everyone. Here’s what the experts say every parent should know.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

We’re “old enough to know how it works.” But we “also know you work for him.” (Home Alone reference!) Thanks for sharing this fun Santa portrait @the_brittjames.

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout-out!

That’s interesting

  1. 😷 Should small businesses require everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine? We turned to an employment attorney with this question.

  2. 📝 Clearing a criminal record is complicated, and we have a comprehensive guide through the process.

  3. 🍗 Ember & Ash transformed their kitchen into a stage to distribute Christmas meals for about 250 Philadelphia families

  4. 🎄 The pandemic opened up musicians to explore themes of belonging and even joy. And a bunch of Philly music acts put together The Philly Holiday Album, a timely, festive new benefit 44-track album that you can stream right here.

  5. 🎅 You probably haven’t tried these workout games, which can seamlessly introduce a little playful exercise into your holiday routine.

  6. 🏀 Columnist Marcus Hayes writes that the apparent wish for a feud between two 76ers players who respect each other — Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons — could come true, unless they can do one thing.

  7. 🍽️ For some restaurants, expansion is on the menu. In fact, reporter Mike Klein saw the same number of new restaurants are set to open 2021 as last year at this time.


“It’s time that we learn to keep the spirit of the season alive not just in December but all year long, especially as we figure our way out of this pandemic.” — just in time to reach the North Pole, columnist Jenice Armstrong writes a Christmas wish list on behalf Philly to Santa.

  1. Registered nurse Tiffany M. Montgomery writes that if we’re going to strive for health-care equity, we need better representation of Black Philadelphians in nursing school faculty.

  2. Journalist and editor Alison McCook writes that the lifesaving innovation of the vaccine is worth celebrating, but its arrival feels bittersweet as she grieves the loss of her father, one of hundreds of thousands of Americans we lost this year.

What we’re reading

  1. Philly Mag unpacks recent data to list the 10 most and least expensive neighborhoods for Philly’s renters.

  2. Billy Penn looks at how thousands of people in Philly’s vibrant immigrant community have relied on these fingerprinting and passport photo services out of a metal truck.

  3. Interestingly, Decider delves into how Christmas movies actually explain the history of Hollywood.

The iconic Christmas Eve line at for the tubular treats at Termini Bros. usually begins to pile up beneath the streetlamps at midnight until 6 a.m when Vincent Termini Sr. opens the door to his usually packed namesake destination.

But in 2020, that sweet tradition naturally presents a problem for everyone flocking to the institution, which will celebrate its 99th Christmas this year. Now, like many other businesses, people will be queuing up virtually for the delights of the bakery offering curbside delivery. Some will still want to have the in-store shopping experience this year. And the family had a message to deliver for those who do. Sending someone to pick up their bake goods is fine.

And if customers would like to hold off on the ritual, there’s always next year: the 100th Termini Christmas.