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Joe Biden has officially won Pennsylvania


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Jordan Wolman
November 25, 2020
Tracing the tracers, election certification, liability lawsuits, use-of-force update, and the perfect gift for your newsletter writer. Happy Thanksgiving Eve. 

Since July, state and local agencies in Pennsylvania have employed more than 1,600 case investigators and contact tracers to identify people who have tested positive for the coronavirus or who may have been exposed to it.

The aim is to ask the people they trace a series of questions related to contraction and spread of the virus, as well as advise measures to curb it.

But as both PennLive and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently found, these investigators are facing a lack of participation as well as understaffing and testing delays. Gov. Tom Wolf's Commonwealth Civilian Coronavirus Corps, meanwhile, won't even launch until spring 2021.

THE CONTEXT: Problems with the program aren't new: As Spotlight PA reported this spring, Pennsylvania in past years slashed its ranks of public health nurses crucial to tracking the virus. And this June, the state reopened without robust tracing needed to keep residents safe.

Spotlight PA now wants to investigate where any issues lie and whether Pennsylvania is doing enough with its contact tracing efforts to make it effective. And we need your help.

Are you a case investigator or contact tracer? Has a contact tracer or case investigator contacted you? How can this system improve? Using the forms here, share your experiences with us.


“It’s unadulterated greed."

— Kathleen Wilson, a 77-year-old woman diagnosed with breast cancer, on efforts by local landlords and developers to take over her Wilkinsburg home in Western Pa.

POST IT: Thank you, Jamie S. of Shippenville, for this shot of sycamore trees and the Clarion River in Cook Forest State Park. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
OFFICIALLY OFFICIAL: Pennsylvania has officially declared President-elect Joe Biden as the state’s presidential winner, certifying election results for all 67 counties, Spotlight PA and Votebeat report. Next up: Biden’s electors will go to Harrisburg on Dec. 14 to formally cast their votes for the former vice president.

LIABILITY LAWSUITS: Nursing homes in Pennsylvania would be shielded from coronavirus-related lawsuits under a bill before Gov. Tom Wolf. Advocates for the elderly say that could let facilities off the hook too easily, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

'HEARD AND VALIDATED': The Allentown Diocese has paid out nearly $16 million to victims sexually abused by members of the clergy, The Morning Call reports. The diocese was required to make the payments after a grand jury revealed a systemic coverup of abuse.

LONG-AWAITED UPDATE: Harrisburg has updated its use-of-force policy following a five-month review, The Burg reports, and now requires officers to intervene if they witness excessive force. Legislation that would require every department to have such a policy is still pending in Harrisburg.

DUELING RECORDS: The Appeal looks at the criminal justice records of Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, both considered to be top Democratic contenders to run for governor in 2022. Shapiro, in particular, has drawn the ire of progressives for repeatedly denying clemency to those serving life without the possibility of parole.
» YOU CAN'T GET THIS ANYWHERE ELSE: Join Spotlight PA for $15/month or more and get this exclusive tote bag, hand-drawn and printed in PA! We only have 44 left, so don't wait — give now! Congrats to John A. for contributing and claiming a tote yesterday. Get yours now!

DIVERSE SOURCES: On Tuesday, Spotlight PA launched a database of experts of color in Pennsylvania as a small but meaningful commitment to increase representation and inclusion in journalism in the state. Check it out at sources.spotlightpa.org, and nominate someone who should be included.

LANCASTER ROYALTY: Jonathan Groff, a Lancaster County native and Broadway star, has been nominated for a Grammy as part of the cast of "Little Shop of Horrors." Theater devotees will, of course, know Groff as the original King George in "Hamilton."

ON MY LIST: This year, all I want for the holidays is a healthy family — and (if you insist!) a custom Middleswarth Potato Chips painting like this one. I'd also accept a commission of a Grandma Utz kettle chips bag.

A MAD COMBO: Despite the coronavirus, Pennsylvania's craft breweries are still finding ways to have fun and offer unique drink options. Apparently, Tröegs' Mad Elf beer cheese — blended with chocolate doughnut — is a "game changer."

BIG SNOW: The year was 1950, and the snow total in southwestern Pennsylvania was 27 inches over a wicked three-day span that overlapped with Thanksgiving. If you're a snow-hater, breathe a sigh of relief: There's no such blizzard in this year's Turkey Day forecast.

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. Love the scrambler? Make a donation to help us end 2020 strong.

Yesterday's answer: Cornbread 

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Thomas B., Heidi B., Mary Ellen T., Lynne E., George S., Carol D., Joel S., Patricia R., Jeffrey S., Dianne K., Lynne P., Ron P., Doug W., Lance L., and Irene R.
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