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Pa. GOP lawmaker tests positive during Trump meeting


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Your Postmaster: Jordan Wolman
November 30, 2020
An abrupt exit, election lawsuits, Fetterman watch, up to a foot of snow, steely mystery, and a cold war bunker? It's Monday, and the last day of November.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday summoned Republican members of the state legislature to the White House after a GOP hearing in Gettysburg in which Trump reasserted his false claim that he “won Pennsylvania by a lot.”

But on Thursday, no one wanted to talk about the meeting.

Perhaps this is why: A source familiar with the meeting told the Associated Press on Sunday that state Sen. Doug Mastriano abruptly exited after being informed he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mastriano had not commented on the AP story as of 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

The senator has been an outspoken critic of Gov. Tom Wolf's mitigation strategies aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. He also helped organize the Wednesday event in Gettysburg, and did not wear a mask.

Mastriano is an ardent Trump supporter, and the president has returned the love. Here's the latest exchange, over a dispute with Twitter.

THE CONTEXT: A number of Republican lawmakers have refused to wear face masks or social distance on the floor or during committee meetings in the Capitol, prompting a Democrat earlier this month to file a formal complaint.

If Mastriano indeed tested positive, he would be the sixth known lawmaker to contract the virus, and the third in the past week and a half.

Democrats have criticized the Republican members who continue to help Trump's campaign peddle false allegations of widespread voter fraud, arguing their time would be better spent focused on the mushrooming pandemic.

As of Sunday, there were 4,405 people hospitalized in Pennsylvania as a result of the disease, nearly 2,000 more than peak hospitalizations from the spring. The number of deaths, the last lagging indicator, have risen as well.

State and federal health officials fear a "surge upon a surge" as a result of the Thanksgiving holiday, just in time for more holidays in December.


“A lot of people have looked for a way to cope, get through the day.”

— Bobby Clarke, a Center City Philadelphia bartender who lost a former co-worker to an overdose earlier this month

POST IT: Thank you, Bob N., for this photo of the Chatterbox Cafe, a restaurant on Main Street in Hummelstown. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
SUPREME REJECTION: The state Supreme Court rejected a challenge to Pennsylvania's mail-in voting law, the final nail in the coffin for those looking to overturn a significant number of votes, PennLive reports. Also last week, a federal appeals court refused to block the state from certifying the election results. 

NOW WHAT? NPR takes a look at Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who has attracted some attention these past few months with his flamboyant hyperboles and how he complements Wolf. In the interview, Fetterman says he is looking at both the open Senate and gubernatorial races for 2022 and vows to "never tweet out anything that Twitter has to slap a warning on like a pack of cigarettes."

RESTAURANTS GEAR UP TO FIGHT: All across Pennsylvania, in rural and urban areas alike, restaurants are readying for battle as COVID-19 restrictions collide with colder weather and stalled funding. Restaurants are "throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks" in Philadelphia and are just looking to stay "afloat" in Cumberland County.

WARRIORS TO GUARDIANS: Philadelphia police are looking to implement a new de-escalation training that has been shown to increase the safety of officers and civilians alike, the Inquirer reports. The paper previously reported that the board tasked with reviewing city police use of force has not met in a year.

STORM WATCH: Forecasters are predicting up to a foot of snow in parts of Erie and Crawford Counties starting early Tuesday, according to GoErie.com. Much of the rest of the state will see significant rain over the next few days.
» 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 40 left, so don't wait! Congrats to Jackie H., Mark S., Stuart L., and Mary W. for claiming their totes this weekend. Get yours now!

COLD WAR BUNKER? That's what one Lehigh County couple just might have discovered on their property. A hatch hidden beneath bittersweet and brambles appears to lead underground. But there will be no way to know for sure unless then follow it down... any takers?

OH COME ON: Experts are now saying murder hornets — those shockingly large stingers that appeared in Washington State this year — would likely feel right at home in Pennsylvania should they ever get here from the West Coast.

A STEELY MYSTERY: Bethlehem Steel has long been credited for providing the steel to build the Chrysler Building in New York City. But it turns out the story is a total myth. Here's the origin and how the story spread.

FORGOTTEN KIDNAPPING: In 1933, police kidnapped 46 Black men and women in Beaver County. The Post-Gazette examines what led to the shocking episode, the fallout, and why much of it was lost to history.

BOOM OR BUST? Could the coronavirus shutdown in Pennsylvania earlier this year lead to a baby boom come the new year? Some hospitals are analyzing trends and preparing, but other expects say one is unlikely.

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.

Thursday's answers: We aren't listing winners from Thanksgiving Day because we posted the answers here. But if you missed them, they were cornucopia, gratitude, overcooked, cranberries, and togetherness.
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