Hello, our dedicated readers of The Inquirer Morning Newsletter.

First: Now that some restaurants are starting to ask patrons to prove they’ve been vaccinated, it’s sparking a debate.

Then: The CDC says that the Philly region now has “substantial” spread of COVID-19, and that masks should be worn indoors.

And: This is the state of high-stakes lung transplant surgeries.

— Ashley Hoffman (@_AshleyHoffman, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

Restaurants are asking for proof of vaccinations — sparking a debate

Vaccine card requirements are becoming the latest battleground for restaurants and consumers on social media.

The question of whether restaurants can serve patrons safely is far from over. But as our delta defense mounts, some restaurants are asking for vaccine cards, and it’s become a flash point for debate online.

The conversations are conflicted. People we spoke to who favor proof of vaccination say private businesses can make this call in the name of public health. Others raise concerns about personal freedom and privacy. Some question the vaccine proof move, arguing that vaccinated people can spread the virus.

Read reporter Michael Klein’s story for more on Philadelphians’ reactions to the vaccine proof debate.

CDC says the Philly region is seeing a ‘substantial’ spread of COVID-19

Montgomery, Delaware, and Bucks Counties are now seeing substantial spread of the coronavirus, an increase spurred by the fast-moving delta variant that means now most of the region falls under federal recommendations to wear masks in public indoor places.

After a period of precipitous decline in COVID-19 cases and vaccination progress, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday moved the counties from the “moderate” to “substantial” transmission category, bringing the entire region into the elevated category with one exception: Chester County, where spread remains at a moderate level. The CDC’s nationwide masking recommendation, announced last week, applies only to those communities with substantial or high transmission rates. (Philadelphia moved there over the weekend, but had already recommended masking indoors.)

The spread of the delta variant and the evolving body of knowledge about how it affects vaccinated and unvaccinated people has shifted the landscape rapidly in recent days. Read on for reporters Erin McCarthy and Justine McDaniel’s article on what we know about the latest spread of COVID-19, and the open questions scientists are exploring.

Rare, risky, and complex, lung transplants for COVID-19 survivors save, but change, lives

For a few COVID-19 survivors, people with lungs so scarred they can barely draw a breath, a lung transplant can be the last hope.

Only about 100 procedures have been performed on COVID-19 patients in the country, with Temple and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania together performing almost 20 of them. All but one person who underwent the operation have survived.

It is “medically the most complex procedure that can be done,” says Ankit Bharat, a Chicago-area transplant surgeon who pioneered its use to save COVID-19 patients. It’s available only to a few, but there’s been a key recent discovery, and notable specialists drawn to this challenge.

Those fortunate enough to get the surgery after a daunting wait list could leave the operating room with new lungs — and considerable medical challenges.

Read on for reporter Jason Laughlin’s article about how complex lung transplants are.

Reopening resources

What you need to know today

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

Highly amusing snapshot. Thanks for sharing.

Tag your Instagram posts with #OurPhilly, and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature here and give you a shout-out.

That's interesting

🍌 Pennsylvania invented the banana split. We’ll tell you where to find the best ones you won’t want to split.

🦅 In today’s, thanks again Carson news, Wentz’s latest injury could actually cost the Eagles a first-round draft pick from the Colts next year.

🥩 Beloved Reuben “Big Rube” Harley is taking over a new kitchen and we’ve got the details.

Opinions

“No amount of money that might eventually come from a legal battle will bring back the lives lost during a period of protracted haggling and negotiations,” The Inquirer Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom, writes that the opioid settlement brings promise and peril.

  • We need to create a modern, fair, and humane immigration system that will form the basis of a more prosperous future for all of us, writes Feyisola Akintola, the special initiatives manager in the Office of Equity for Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

  • “Race and housing will forever be entangled. Tackling one without the other will never net the desired result. But still there is hope — in the strong community push-back against the vile remarks in Mount Laurel a few weeks ago,” write Adam Gordon, executive director of Fair Share Housing Center and Marcus Sibley, president of the Southern Burlington County NAACP.

What we're reading

  • Puerto Rico is partying thanks to Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, who knows how to pause for applause when she’s not burning up the track, capturing the island’s first Olympic gold medal in the women’s 100m hurdles in track and second in its history, per NBC News.

  • Katie Ledecky, our queen of chlorine, and Caeleb Dressel, yet another Gator great, are locking in glory of U.S. Olympic swimming team. Just ask Sports Illustrated.

  • In the latest example of love not costing a thing, but presents being good, Dunkin’ runner Ben Affleck bestowed a piece of jewelry on megastar J.Lo, and you’d better believe InStyle has the news brief.

  • A Ben Affleck adjacent figure, actor Matt Damon, started a conversation when he told the Independent that movies just won’t be the same for the youths.

Your daily dose of | Seeing the good kind of red

Is anyone in the world as happy as the Phillies’ Freddy Galvis right now? It felt great to be Freddy on Friday when he was traded back to the Phillies. He almost felt bad to be in stitches laughing when Baltimore’s general manager called him to break the news. It’s a homecoming of sorts. He spent six years of his career with the Phillies, so he’s thrilled about wearing red again.