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Lawmaker blames COVID-19 infection on make-up artist


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Jordan Wolman
December 2, 2020
Total silence, another Supreme appeal, disappearing bank branches, AIDS Awareness Month, despicable words, and free coffee. It's Wednesday. 

An election-related hearing last week organized by Republican Sen. Doug Mastriano drew dozens of spectators, many of them maskless, to a Gettysburg hotel conference room for nearly four hours.

Just a few hours later, Mastriano tested positive for COVID-19 during a trip to the White House. And on Monday, a second GOP senator who attended the event tested positive.

Yet Republicans who control the chamber have gone silent, Spotlight PA reports, with leadership refusing to disclose if there have been efforts to track down the roughly 100 people who attended the hearing.

“It seems to me that a body like our state Senate should be modeling appropriate behavior, instead of behavior that is inappropriate such as this," one public health expert said.

During a half-hour Facebook live session Monday night — which has since been removed from his page — Mastriano confirmed he had tested positive for the coronavirus. He claimed he contracted it from a make-up artist's brush that had been used on him before some type of media spot.

THE CONTEXT: The GOP's silence comes as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surge, making mitigation efforts like wearing masks and not gathering in small spaces more important than ever.

On Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that five additional mobile testing units will be deployed to primarily rural parts of Pennsylvania. The state's testing rate is still lagging behind much of the country, as labs struggle with a lack of staff.

All but one county is seeing "substantial" spread of the virus. Hospitalizations continue to increase at exponential rates, and the number of patients on ventilators is approaching the state's all-time highs. You can follow all of the latest data using our live coronavirus tracker.


"To be blunt, daily cases of COVID-19 are at an all-time high, and we are reaching a critical tipping point in our ability to maintain effective face-to-face programming."

— David Christopher, Cumberland Valley School District's superintendent, asking parents to follow public health guidelines

POST IT: Another great sunrise shot, this time of a powerline in Horsham. Thanks, Claudia M., for the submission. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
A FINAL REQUEST: U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly and other Republicans are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to undo Pennsylvania's certification of President-elect Joe Biden's win and to stop the state from certifying any other races, the Associated Press reports. Their suit was recently thrown out by the state Supreme Court.

REINSTATED: A federal appeals court has reinstated the child-endangerment conviction of former Penn State President Graham B. Spanier, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The three-judge panel found a lower court had improperly overturned a guilty verdict related to the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

CONSTRUCTION COMMITMENT: The Morning Call reports that Gov. Tom Wolf will find a way "internally" to continue to fund financially strapped state construction projects. PennDOT unsuccessfully asked lawmakers to approve $600 million in borrowing to continue to fund existing projects as the pandemic has drained its revenue streams.

NOPE: In a viral tweet, Mastriano, the state senator, claimed that Pennsylvania mailed out nearly 1 million fewer ballots than there were mail-in voters. In reality, Mastriano conflated numbers from the primary and general election, a USA Today fact-check found.

'VESTED INTEREST': Bank branches are disappearing in some of the poorest sections of Erie where residents are primarily non-white. While online banking is growing, the Erie Times-News found the presence of a bank office can be significant for a community.
» THE JOURNALISM WE NEED: Help us keep Harrisburg honest in 2021 by becoming a member now. As an added bonus, contribute $15/month or $180/year and get this exclusive tote bag. We only have 29 left, so don't wait!

Thank you to all of our contributors who made #GivingNewsDay a success for Spotlight PA yesterday and a special shout-out to our members who claimed totes: Christina W., Meg P., Jeremy L., George G., Meg M., Ronnie P., Lisa E., Dorothy F., and Earl D. 

YOU'RE INVITED!: The surge and the coming vaccines are top of mind for Pennsylvanians this winter. At 4 p.m. Dec. 7, join Spotlight PA’s panel of health experts to get your questions answered about testing, schools, holiday stress, tracing effectiveness, what to expect from those vaccines, and more. You can RSVP for free right now to claim your spot.

AIDS AWARENESS: December is National AIDS Awareness Month. One man living with HIV is honoring those who participate in the University of Pittsburgh's long-running and life-saving HIV/AIDS study by volunteering as part of a coronavirus vaccine trial

SWEET TREAT: The new season of "Kids Baking Championship" on the Food Network premieres later this month and features two young bakers from Pennsylvania: 12-year-old Jonah Anderson of Harrisburg, and 12-year-old Cydney Cain of Prospect Park. They're both baking for a shot at $25,000.

DESPICABLE WORDS: We asked for your words of 2020 that you want to throw away. The overwhelming winner? Unprecedented. "For the love of anything that is holy, can we please stop calling these times 'unprecedented?' one reader wrote. "I am so sick of hearing this word," another said.

FREE COFFEE: If you're a first responder or health care worker, or know one, this is for you: 1) THANK YOU! 2) Let them know they can get free coffee for all of December at participating Starbucks.

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: Substantial 

Congrats to our daily winners: Heidi B., David I., Thomas B., Mary Ellen T., Craig W., Jeffery S., Bill C., John C., Lynne E., Jarrod B., George S., Beth T., Doug W., Craig E., Gail H., Joel S., Ron P., David W., Chris M., Carol D., and Chris W.
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