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Pa. abandoned early plan to protect nursing homes

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The Investigator

Your guide to the Capitol & stories holding the powerful to account

May 14, 2020 | spotlightpa.org

A new Spotlight PA investigation reveals the state had a robust, aggressive plan to protect nursing homes from COVID-19. But it was never fully implemented, and a similar — though far more limited — effort wasn’t activated until mid-April, long after major outbreaks had already taken hold. 

Three days after the story was published, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine said the state would institute universal testing at long-term care facilities — a major reversal. As recently as last week, Levine told lawmakers it was unclear if widespread testing was the solution to the growing crisis.

Still, the latest plan raises more questions than it answers. Why isn't testing mandatory? How much will it cost and who's footing the bill? Our reporters are digging into these questions and more, and will have an update next week.

Also this week, Spotlight PA learned that the state revoked business waivers late last Thursday without explanation, shortly before officials for the first time revealed which companies received the coveted exemptions.

Sarah Anne Hughes, Spotlight PA


"My first thought was, someone turned on me."

— Tiffany Kuhn, a business owner, on having her waiver to operate revoked by the state late last Thursday, a day before officials released the first exemption list
LATEST ON THE NUMBERS: This week, Spotlight PA launched the most comprehensive coronavirus data dashboard in the state, along with our partners at The Philadelphia Inquirer. You can see daily information on cases, deaths, tests, trends, and more. This is worth a bookmark.


As of 12 p.m. May 14
Note: The Pennsylvania Department of Health changed how it counts coronavirus deaths in April. This resulted in two sharp increases and a drop in cumulative deaths.
Latest from Spotlight PA
» Counties abandon plans to buck Wolf, as GOP lawmakers continue pushing reopening
» GOP takes Wolf to court for records on controversial business waiver process
» Wolf denounces counties reopening without his approval as ‘cowardly,’ ‘selfish’
» Workers in Pennsylvania with preexisting health conditions fear a call to return to work
» Experts caution against excluding nursing home cases from reopening formula

From across the state
» AP: State lawmakers use taxpayer money for fancy office furniture, hairspray to kill flies
» INQUIRER: Nursing home residents given unproven med touted by Trump
» INQUIRER: House speaker falsely claims only sick children are susceptible to COVID
» LEHIGH VALLEY LIVE: President will unveil stockpile plan at Pa. distribution center
» LNP: Lancaster commissioners clash along party lines on early reopening plan
» PENNLIVE: COVID-19 testing still lags behind modest state goal
» POST-GAZETTE: How life will change for residents of counties entering 'yellow' phase
» PUBLICSOURCE: Immigrant families find themselves without work, access to info
» THE APPEAL: Erie County judge tells pregnant woman she's safer in jail
» WASHINGTON POST: Pa. factory postpones Trump visit over safety concerns 
» WHYY: Commissioner says state lawmakers are driving push to reopen counties

Send your answers to newsletters@spotlightpa.org.

Deer Oh Deer (Case No. 38): A deer lived alone on an island on a lake in Maine. No one brought the deer to the island, it didn't swim there and it wasn't born there. How did it get there?
Stumped? Get a hint. Feeling smart? Challenge a friend.

Last week's answer: The bottom three rungs of the ladder will never be under water because the ship will rise with the tide.

Congrats to Janet C., who will receive Spotlight PA swag (when we reopen our office!). Others who correctly answered: Frank D., Joseph S., Lou R., Kathy W., Philip C., Joseph M., Kenneth J., Mark C., Dennis F., Rebecca D., Jon N., Stewart G., Claudia M., and Dawn M.
» This week's Riddler hint: Location matters.
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