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Pa.’s new COVID-19 restrictions include indoor dining shutdown | Morning Newsletter

And, the U.S. moved a step closer to coronavirus vaccine shots.

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

Good morning, Philly. This is what we’ve got cooking for you today.

First: A U.S. government advisory panel endorsed the widespread use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine yesterday. Shots could begin within days, depending on how fast the Food and Drug Administration signs off.

Then: Pennsylvania will have new pandemic-related restrictions starting tomorrow, including the statewide shutdown of indoor dining.

And: Meet the Philadelphia Zoo’s new baby giraffe, Bea.

— Josh Rosenblat (@joshrosenblat,

Camden has recorded 259 new cases for every 10,000 residents since Nov. 9, and over 7% of its residents have contracted the coronavirus. That’s the highest infection rate of any municipality in the region with at least 2,000 residents.

To help try to contain the spread of COVID-19, health workers and police officers have been going door-to-door to inform residents about staying safe during the holidays. They’re also helping residents who have lost jobs, are dealing with food insecurity, and other issues that the pandemic has made worse.

Paschal Nwako, public health coordinator for Camden County, told my colleague Frank Kummer that vaccines for residents could start rolling out as soon as late January. The county is training city residents to help educate Hispanic and Black residents — who have been disproportionately hit by COVID-19 — as well as religious communities on vaccine safety.

There will be new pandemic measures taking hold in Pennsylvania this weekend. They’re Gov. Tom Wolf’s most sweeping attempt to try to fight the surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

From tomorrow until Jan. 4, indoor dining will be shut down, casinos, gyms, and other entertainment venues will be closed, retail occupancy will be lowered, and gatherings will be limited to 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

Helpful COVID-19 resources

  1. Check the latest coronavirus-related restrictions in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

  2. Are you seeing people again after having COVID-19? Read our checklist first.

  3. Can you travel this winter? Should you? Is it safe to travel? By plane? By car?

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

  5. Everything you need to know about buying, washing, replacing, and wearing face masks.

  6. Track the spread of COVID-19 infections in the region.

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

What you need to know today

  1. The U.S. is now just a step away from launching its vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 outbreak. A government advisory panel endorsed the widespread use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine yesterday.

  2. Philadelphia City Council was busy yesterday. It extended the requirement for landlords to go to mediation before filing for most evictions. It also unanimously approved three bills that aim to provide job security to hospitality sector workers, known as the “Black Workers Matter Economic Recovery Package.” The body also passed a 1% tax on residential construction, which is supposed to help finance an initiative to fight poverty and increase affordable housing access.

  3. The 2020 election was Pennsylvania’s most expensive ever, officials say. That includes counties paying millions in OT.

  4. The four men who are incarcerated for the March shooting death of Philadelphia Police Cpl. James O’Connor IV were federally indicted on new charges yesterday. That includes counts that could result in a federal death sentence for one of them.

  5. There are 512 elected local judges in Pennsylvania who have important responsibilities. But a yearlong investigation revealed that some of them have light workloads while collecting taxpayer-funded salaries, pensions, and health care. Here’s how Spotlight PA and PennLive investigated the story.

  6. The COVID-19 surge left more than 500 Philly cops unable to work last week, according to department data.

  7. Philly police shot a man who they say was armed with a knife in Feltonville on Wednesday. They say they’re still working to identify the man who was critically wounded from the shot.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

These pics are ... cool. (See what I did there?) Thanks for sharing, @denisewalksphilly.

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. 🌁 For the first time since two winters ago, there’s a “freezing fog” advisory, meaning that there’s the potential for black ice to form on road surfaces. Be careful out there, especially if you’re driving.

  2. 🥃 More than 30 whiskeys were sampled for this holiday gift guide.

  3. 🦅 Jalen Hurts is going to start on Sunday against the Saints. Can he save the Eagles’ season?

  4. 🔨 This South Jersey hardware store is “like a town square that sells tools,” writes my colleague Kevin Riordan.

  5. ⚾ The Phillies are in active talks to hire a new president of baseball operations and are closing in on hiring a two-time World Series-winning exec.

  6. 📚 Does requiring students to keep their cameras on during remote learning lead to accountability or is it an invasion of privacy?

Stay safe, do stuff

Here is one highlight from our weekly events calendar:

  1. 🎶 Foo Fighters, Lil Nas X (Music / virtual / seasonal / free) Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters are performing their own songs plus Christmas music as part of the Amazon Holiday Plays series, hosted by “Old Town Road” rapper Lil Nas X. Miley Cyrus and Kiana Lede’s previous Holiday Plays performances are also archived through the end of the month. (Free, Dec. 15, 7:55 p.m., add to calendar)

Find more of this week’s safe kid-friendly, outdoor and arts events.


“Gun violence victims fall through cracks now made wider by a pandemic that disproportionately kills Blacks and Latinos, despite a national reckoning on racial justice that has put the spotlight on inequality in America. It’s hard not to wonder the difference that reckoning might have made had it come earlier for those who lost their lives under the same systemic racism.” — writes columnist Helen Ubiñas about the Philadelphians who have been killed by gun violence this year. You should know their names, Ubiñas writes.

  1. Staff opinion writer Abraham Gutman has begun working on applying for naturalization in the U.S. He writes about the experience of being measured on your “moral character,” highlighting one question in particular: “Have you EVER been a habitual drunkard?

  2. Columnist Maria Panaritis writes about a Delaware County woman who is collecting donated school supplies in her garage.

What we’re reading

  1. Billy Penn profiles the new (and first) chief diversity and inclusion officer at the Free Library of Philadelphia. He’s a Philly native named Guy A. Sims and he co-created critically acclaimed comics.

  2. Al Día has a story about Philly actor Colman Domingo, who starred in the recent two-part Christmas special of HBO’s hit series Europhoria.

  3. The Ringer explores the search for Alex Trebek’s successor as Jeopardy! host.

Your Daily Dose of | Philly’s new baby giraffe

Bea, a 15-month-old giraffe, made her outdoor debut yesterday in the Philadelphia Zoo’s African Plains exhibit. Bea arrived from Knoxville, Tenn. late last month and has been spending her time getting to know her “herd mates” Stella and Abigail. Bea is already 8 feet tall and weighs 300 pounds, but still has some growing to do.