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Pa. could run out of ICU beds next month


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Jordan Wolman
November 18, 2020
New virus restrictions, language barriers, female leaders, a grand finale, and a hometown hero. You've made it to Wednesday; that counts for something.

As Pennsylvania reported a record-setting 5,900 daily cases of COVID-19 on Tueday, the state's top health official announced new mitigation mandates aimed at bending the curve once again. 

Beginning Friday, out-of-state travelers will be required to get tested or quarantine for 14 days, Health Secretary Rachel Levine said Tuesday. The order will also apply to Pennsylvanians who leave the state and return.

The state is also altering its existing mandate to require masks to be worn indoors "even if you are physically distant from members not in your household." Levine conceded all of the new measures cannot be enforced, and that the state is relying on residents and visitors to do their part.

THE CONTEXT: The state could face devastating consequences if it stays on this path. 

Levine said modeling from the University of Washington projects that Pennsylvania will run out of intensive care beds in December if the surge continues. "There will be sufficient medical-surgical beds across the commonwealth, but it is not clear if they will be available in all regions," Levine wrote in a memo to hospitals, asking them to work collaboratively in the days ahead. 

More than 2,700 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized Tuesday, hundreds more than Monday and significantly higher than just a few weeks ago.

What Levine did not announce: widespread lockdowns and closures like the ones seen this spring. As Spotlight PA reported last week, public health experts say the state is better prepared to deal with cases and lockdowns aren't necessary at the moment

But without more robust testing, contact tracing, and efforts to isolate sick people, experts said cases — and subsequently, deaths — are going to continue to rise.


"Long before the pandemic, this long-term care challenge that we worked on the last couple of years was kind of a silent crisis."

— U.S. Sen. Bob Casey on neglect and abuse inside nursing and other care homes. Casey and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey on Tuesday introduced legislation to mandate more oversight.

POST IT: Thank you, Dave S. of Pottsville, for this dusk shot of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
ONGOING BARRIERS: Spanish speakers in Pennsylvania faced a number of challenges at the polls on Election Day, Spotlight PA and Votebeat report. While the problems weren’t widespread, advocates say any instance of a Spanish speaker facing a barrier when it comes to voting is inexcusable and shouldn’t be happening in 2020.

WHAT COMES NEXT: Two women made history last week when their colleagues picked them to lead Senate Republicans and House Democrats in the Pennsylvania legislature. But they’ll likely find themselves on opposite sides of key issues as a deeply divided state continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, Spotlight PA reports.

THE 'GRAND FINALE': On behalf of President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani appeared before a federal judge in Pennsylvania yesterday to make what may be the campaign's final stand against the state's election results, CNN reports. Also on Tuesday, the state Supreme Court rejected the Trump campaign's claim that its poll watchers didn't have access to the vote count in Philadelphia, The Inquirer reports.

ON STRIKE: About 760 nurses from St. Mary's Medical Center in southeastern Pennsylvania have gone on strike, the Bucks County Courier Times reports. The nurses say they're facing dangerously low staffing as Pennsylvania sets records for new cases of COVID-19 and sees rising hospitalizations.

DEMOTION: The chief homicide prosecutor in Philadelphia has been demoted as the city's murder rate tops a three-decade record, Billy Penn reports. Law enforcement in the city has reported 435 homicides to date this year — the most since 1993, with more than a month still to go in 2020.
» WE'RE SO CLOSE: What are you waiting for? Join Spotlight PA today and your contribution will be DOUBLED.

Thank you to everyone donated yesterday: Stacey M., Susan J., Louise T., Robert S., Carol B., Robert R., Alicia P., Larry C., Kathryn R., Ann S., Ira B., Mary W., Stephen F., John L., Lawrence D., Lewis S., Margaret T., Danya H., Philip S., Yolanda B., Kathy G., Timothy S., Lisa B., Gregory G., Evangeline J., Gregory J., Julie K., Feather H., Nicholas S., Graeme B., Melissa M., Jack D., Mark D., Ralph L., Mary D., David A., Joseph F., Marilyn A., Leslie S., Don H., Merle S., and Les H.

MAJOR WINNER: Philadelphia Union's Jim Curtin has been named MLS coach of the year after his team's success in an unprecedented season. Curtin has used his platform to speak out against racism both in soccer and in the U.S.

OH, HEY, CAN YOU SING? The Pennsylvania Farm Show is looking for great singers to audition to kick off the virtual festivities next year. Think you've got the pipes to pull it off? Here's how to try out

FIRST NIGHT LITE: New Year's festivities in Pittsburgh are getting a makeover in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. People won't gather downtown but instead can watch fireworks and performances during a live TV broadcast.

ONLINE OPERA: The Pittsburgh Opera is moving its holiday bazaar online, complete with a live-streamed concert of seasonal songs. Registration is free for the Dec. 12 event. Or check out the annual Christmas City Follies, a Lehigh Valley staple, which will televise its annual variety show.

HOMETOWN HERO: Billy Penn has the inside story on Philadelphia's frenetic, exhausting, free-of-fraud vote counting. Nestled in the reporting about the operation is this fun detail: Famous person and Pennsylvania native Bradley Cooper sent over Angelo’s pizza.

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out the winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. If you love the scrambler, make a donation and we'll DOUBLE it.

Yesterday's answer: Vengeance 

Congrats to our daily winners: Chip K., David I., Craig W., Jarrod B., Maureen G., Bob R., Steve D., Steven A., Keith F., Thomas B., Irene R., Mary Ellen T., John H., Michael K., Lynne E., Beth T., Tish M., Lynn K., George S., Ron P., Patricia R., Joel S., Kim C., Jill A-S., Carol D., Bruce B., Selena W., Lance L., Charles M., David W., Valerie H., Theodore W., Lynne P., Robert S., and Chris M.
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