You can get free water ice, booze, and even cash for getting vaccinated in the Philly region. These incentives are meant to reel in people who haven’t gotten the shots yet, for any reason. “Whatever we have to do to get this last group of people, we need to do it,” Philadelphia Council President Darrell L. Clarke said.

And, those who have gotten vaccinated are fueling a continuing decrease in new cases, so Philadelphia city officials announced Friday that they would lift restrictions on Wednesday — a whole nine days earlier than planned. But masks will still be required for now.

— Lauren Aguirre (@laurencaguirre, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

The week ahead

  • Reading Terminal Market was vandalized this week when someone sprayed gray paint along its Filbert Street side. The damage is estimated to be at least in “the five figures” and a reward is being offered for information on who did it.

  • Workers at the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology announced Friday that they intend to unionize. In April, the museum became embroiled in a controversy over its handling of the remains of at least one child who died in the city’s 1985 bombing of the MOVE compound, resulting in the deaths of 11 people inside.

  • Amazon got land SEPTA wanted. Will it delay a much-needed trolley upgrade?

  • The 10th annual Philadelphia Latino Film Festival starts today, and features local filmmakers with stories of resilience, empowerment, and accomplishment during the pandemic.

  • One in seven recipients of SNAP benefits earned associate’s or bachelor’s degrees, a Census analysis shows.

  • The bands are back in town. Philly’s concert calendar is about to get swamped. “Every band that ever existed wants to tour,” says one Philly event booker.

  • As an assistant to Harold Katz, she had a front-row view for the Sixers’ last NBA championship. Now, at 74, she got her college degree.

Marking Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

AAPI-owned businesses in Philly to support all year round

AAPI heritage month is nearly over, but we also have 11 more months of the year to support local Asian American and Pacific Islander makers, designers, and entrepreneurs. In Philly, these businesses are stylish, environmentally conscious, hyperlocal, and community-focused, and more than one is family-run. From meticulously curated goods to lifestyle brands to sports and recreation, there’s something on this list of AAPI-owned businesses in Philly to support.

Ways to continue celebrating and supporting:

  • Donate to Asian Americans United, which focuses on fighting anti-Asian violence and building up Philly’s Asian communities.

  • Support the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation. For years, it has worked to preserve, protect, and promote Chinatown and prevent outside forces from displacing the community.

  • Cambodian American Girls Empowering creates a safe space to explore Khmer American arts, culture, and identities through workshops, dance classes and Khmer classical and folk dance performances.

  • Kampoeng Indonesia was founded by the owners of Hardena and its mission is to preserve and promote traditional Indonesian culture in Philadelphia through community service and events.

  • There are many, many ways to continue celebrating and supporting throughout the year. These listed here are just a few. Take a look at our list of local AAPI organizations for more ideas.

This week’s most popular stories

Behind the story with Justine McDaniel

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 reporter Justine McDaniel, who covers the coronavirus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

You’ve been focused on the pandemic since it hit the region. What’s a big challenge you faced that you maybe weren’t expecting?

The biggest challenge was keeping up the stamina in the face of a daily barrage of news, a changed way of working, and, well, a pandemic that was affecting us all, particularly during the intense spring and winter months. Sometimes it felt like a marathon and Groundhog Day at the same time, but usually, each day’s story felt uniquely important, with new information we were getting to the public, and that helped me maintain the energy.

What’s something you’ve learned through your reporting?

There are many ways to answer this question, but one thing we’ve seen throughout the pandemic is what a critical role government leaders, institutions and systems play in a crisis like this, not only in the response itself but in affecting public morale and expectations. Things that might have seemed mundane or bureaucratic during normal times, like data-keeping systems or routine news conferences, became the stuff of headlines.

For me, this underscored the importance of paying attention to agencies, institutions and public health investment during normal times, both because it affects how prepared we are for an emergency like this and because there are systemic inequities that need to be addressed and will continue to need to be spotlighted after the pandemic ends.

What have you worked on recently that you’re proud of?

Though the state’s vaccination rate is now among the top 10 in the country, vaccines were scarce and appointments were difficult to get in early 2021. My colleague Erin McCarthy and I reported on issues with Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout and public frustration with the process, including a dispute between Philadelphia’s suburban counties and the state. I hope that reporting provided a public service.

What are you keeping an eye on for your reporting as the region reopens?

Of course we’re watching case numbers, hospitalizations, and vaccination rates, as well as how local and state governments handle reopening logistics. But I am also interested in the ways normality will shift and be redefined, and whether that will happen with the same speed it did when the pandemic began. With people getting vaccinated at different times and the economic reopening happening gradually, we are getting a staggered return to life that will happen at a different time and in different ways for everyone, and I find that fascinating. I also am going to be looking for the people who remain deeply affected by COVID-19 even as others celebrate a return to normal life.

What is one thing you wish more people understood about your job?

We are working incredibly hard to find facts and get important information to the public, and we take that mission very seriously. Everything we print has been fact-checked and verified, so if you see something on social media and you’re not sure whether it’s true, you can do your own research using our coverage. When you get information from us, it’s guaranteed to be fact-checked and accurate, so you can use that as a tool to help you avoid misinformation.

What do you do outside of work for fun? Do you have any good book, podcast, or show recommendations?

I enjoy cooking, hiking, fiction writing, and taking dance classes. I’ve been watching Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, and I am reading All We Can Save, an anthology on climate change. The next book I’m looking forward to reading is One Two Three by Laurie Frankel.

Email Justine McDaniel at jmcdaniel@inquirer.com and follow her on Twitter at @McDanielJustine.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

How’s everybody doing with the rain this weekend?

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’s open and what’s not on Memorial Day

A three-day weekend is always welcome, but you might not be able to get some errands done on the Memorial Day holiday. Some businesses may have adjusted hours or be closed. Many government agencies may also be closed for the day. But, of course, there’s also the fun stuff. Our list includes which attractions are open, too. Check it before you head out.

What we’re…

  • Watching: The Mare of Easttown season finale is tonight. What are your theories? Here’s a look at some of them.

  • Anticipating: Summer movies are here — for real this time. The lineup begins this Memorial Day weekend.

  • Exploring: If you want to go down the Shore this summer, we have our stories, including travel and activity guides for you. Here’s our Shore coverage collected in one place.

Question of the week

What are you doing this year for Memorial Day weekend? The unofficial start to summer is here, so we asked our Instagram followers what they’re doing this year that they might have missed out on last year due to the pandemic. Here are a few of their responses:

👰 “My sister’s wedding that has been postponed four times.”

🏖️ “BEACH TRIPPPPP #HotVaxedSummer... Except it’s 60 degrees this weekend...”

💯 “Literally nothing 👍”.

🍰 “Making a big ol’ cake with my partner. I haven’t seen her in 5 months.”

🍖 “BBQing like it’s 2019.”

❤️ “Honoring the fallen. Never forget. 🇺🇸”

Follow @PhillyInquirer on Instagram so you can share your answer next time.

Your Daily Dose of | Color

About 25 students aged 6 to 13 colored in a small portion of the 6,500-square-foot drawing created by art teacher Dyymond Whipper-Young, a part of the Crayola IDEAworks: The Creativity Exhibition. The Franklin Institute and Whipper-Young hoped to break a record for the world’s largest drawing.