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Are Philly businesses ready for new mask guidelines? | Morning Newsletter

And, when to watch Philly-area athletes at the Olympics.

    The Morning Newsletter

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

Happy Sunday, readers of The Inquirer Morning Newsletter. Here’s what you need to know today.

Philadelphia’s health officials are now recommending everyone — including the fully vaccinated — wear masks indoors. But are the city’s businesses ready for the change? This guidance is not a requirement, so it’s up to the businesses to choose to comply or not. Some went along with it quickly, but others are confused and frustrated by the shifting guidelines.

— Lauren Aguirre (@laurencaguirre,

The week ahead

  1. “Micro” thunderstorms are pounding the Philly region, with a nearly 100% chance for more.

  2. Pennsylvania Republicans see a big opportunity in 2022. But some are worried their candidates might blow it.

  3. Pennsylvania health officials are requesting $124 million in pandemic-related emergency contracts as Republicans call for oversight.

  4. A new football field and track are coming to West Fairmount Park to create a home for youth teams, but it will partially displace others from the green space.

  5. A Lower Merion firefighter died after a driver crashed into four first responders on I-76.

  6. Wissahickon Valley Park is suffering from severe human-related impacts because of its high number of visitors, according to a nonprofit environmental organization.

  7. With stress levels high, some Philly-area restaurants are closing for vacation this summer.

  8. Jobs in marijuana are growing as recreational use arrives across the region.

  9. In Tokyo, 35 athletes from the Philly-area are competing at the Olympics. Today, the region is repping in fencing and basketball. Here’s our full calendar of local athletes.

This week’s most popular stories

Behind the story with Dain Saint

Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week we chat with interactive developer Dain Saint on his work behind the scenes on our important and detailed stories.

How would you describe what an interactive developer is?

My job is to use code to tell our stories in a more engaging way. Sometimes that could mean coding an interactive map that helps illustrate how a story has unfolded; sometimes it’s designing a new layout to draw the reader’s attention in specific ways; sometimes it’s creating prestige experiences that readers can sit with for extended periods of time. But at the end of that, it’s all about the storytelling.

How does your job support the newsroom’s reporting? What does an average day look like for you?

I’m usually talking with reporters and editors to see what opportunities there are to enhance our stories with interactivity. On occasion, I pitch my own projects and find reporters to do the vital on-the-ground work. Beyond that, I work with the rest of the interactive team to find ways of making this sort of work faster and more efficient, so that we have more capacity to deploy our skills to more projects.

What is your main goal when working on any project?

My main goal is always to ask, “How can we make this more compelling?” I focus a lot more on what a project is communicating and how a reader experiences it than on my desire to use a shiny new toy (although sometimes, yes, I do want to use the shiny new toy).

Beyond that, I really want to make sure that every person I work with has a positive experience — it can be difficult to engage with complicated technical concepts outside of a typical journalist’s experience, and I want to make sure that our work is clearly explained, adds obvious value, and makes all project team members excited about possibilities for the future.

What’s something you’ve worked on that you’re particularly proud of?

I’m very proud of the work our team did on the 2020 Year In Pictures project — we had an extremely tight deadline, coming in on the heels of The Election, but still managed to create something unique and engaging while interfacing with multiple desks. And I’m very proud of the result!

How might your career path differ from a reporter or editor? How did you end up where you are today?

My career path isn’t typical — I ran a video game company for over a decade before joining the Inquirer, and that was after pursuing a mechanical engineering degree. I think I’m more drawn to problem solving than any specific discipline, in the same way that I feel a lot of reporters are drawn to storytelling. I felt like my experiences in games could lend themselves to creating more engaging news projects, and I’m happy to see that’s largely been borne out.

What do you do for fun outside of work? Are you looking forward to anything this year?

I write and perform poetry and music (and I have a show coming October 1st, hint hint). I love finding new ways of expressing myself and helping other people do the same, so now that we’re getting back to being able to meet up in person I’m thrilled to keep finding opportunities to collaborate with other artists.

Email Dain Saint at

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

A beautiful snapshot of everyday Philly life. Thanks for sharing!

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!

What vaccinated people should know about COVID-19 variants

Philly issued new guidance “strongly recommending” that everyone wear masks indoors, in part because of the variants. The counties surrounding the city have said they do not plan to change their mask guidance. Making sense of conflicting guidance can be challenging because in many cases there is no right or wrong answer, said Jennifer Khelil, chief medical officer at Virtua Health. It all depends on your personal tolerance for risk, she said. Here’s what to know.

What we’re…

  1. Eating: Here are 9 ways to enjoy National Ice Cream Month all summer long.

  2. Watching: Check out the Olympics streaming schedule for today to catch all your favorite sports, including gymnastics.

  3. Listening to: Philly’s Nahir “Woo” Albright is using boxing to boost his R&B career.

  4. Exploring: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is hosting an exhibit of art in which every piece was created by a woman.

Question of the week

Should cars return to MLK Drive, or should it stay open just for cyclists and pedestrians? Philly’s MLK Drive will reopen to cars in August. So, we asked our Instagram followers for their thoughts on the change. Here’s what a few of them said:

⛔ “If it helps the community and the environment, keep it closed.”

🚴 “No! It has been so valuable to have such a safe & wide open space for pedestrians and cyclists.”

🚗 “Yes. It’s practically empty on weekdays right now. It should open M-F and close weekends.”

👟 “I wish it was not reopening for cars. It has been an excellent exhaust-free workout area.”

🛣️ “It cripples traffic flow when Kelly Drive is closed as well. Not practical.”

👎 “I want to raise my family in Philly, but not if it values cars over people.”

Remember to follow @PhillyInquirer on Instagram to share your thoughts next time.

Your Daily Dose of | An Olympic Birthday

Villanova grad Summer Rappaport is hoping for a happy birthday at the Tokyo Olympics triathlon. Villanova has had a track and field competitor at every Olympics since 1948. Rappaport and two others representing Ireland continue that impressive tradition.