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The first Pennsylvanians get vaccinated against COVID-19

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Your Postmaster: Jordan Wolman
December 15, 2020
An officially official election (again), the first vaccine doses, a barrage of 911 calls, river of the year, and a true Pennsylvania test. Have a great Tuesday.
Pennsylvania's 20 electors gathered in Harrisburg on Monday to unanimously grant President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the state's electoral votes, Votebeat and Spotlight PA report.

The electoral votes were granted to Biden and Harris in accordance with the outcome of the state's popular vote. Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes, about twice President Donald Trump's 2016 margin. 

“Your participation today in this Electoral College proves once again the durability of our Constitution and the majesty of our democracy,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar, referencing a 1992 concession speech from former President George H.W. Bush.

The normally mundane and symbolic event gained extra attention and coverage this year as Trump continues to falsely claim the election was stolen and Biden's win is illegitimate.

THE CONTEXT: The slate of electors — selected by Biden — included current and former state and local elected officials, and Democratic party leaders. They each cast their ballots for Biden and Harris and signed certificates, which were sent to the president of the U.S. Senate, Vice President Mike Pence.

The road to get to this point, though, has not been smooth.

Pennsylvania was the subject of a number of suits that sought to block the election results, but ultimately all attempts failed, including a recent claim brought by Texas. And as recently as last week, a number of Republicans including House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) wrote a letter to the state's congressional delegation asking them to reject Biden's electors.

That request is all-but-certain to fail, as it would require cooperation from the Democratic-controlled U.S. House. Congress will count the votes during a joint session in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6.


“I wanted to share with my community that it is OK — that this vaccine is the thing to do to keep us safe, to keep us healthy, and to keep us alive."

— Dr. Sylvia Owusu-Ansah was one of five University of Pittsburgh Medical Center employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine Monday, the first administered in the state. Pennsylvania expects to initially receive 110,000 doses.

POST IT: Thanks, Susan D., for this sunset view from Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community in Lancaster County. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
BIG CRUNCH: A late deadline to apply for a mail ballot left counties scrambling to make sure every vote was counted, Votebeat and Spotlight PA report. The situation was so desperate and chaotic that at least one county election officer ended up driving mail ballots to voters' homes to make sure they were received in time. 

'DISGRACEFUL': That's how Gov. Tom Wolf described the federal stalemate on delivering a new coronavirus relief package, CBS Philly reports. “Federal leadership left states to deal with the consequences on our own,” he said. “We need a comprehensive relief package right now.”

DANGEROUS RISE: A barrage of calls to 911 to handle COVID-19 patients has overwhelmed emergency response services in parts of western Pennsylvania, TribLIVE reports. Mutual Aid, an ambulance service in Westmoreland County, fielded 55 calls just for coronavirus cases on a single day recently.

FOR DEANA: After more than a year of negotiations, a bill that would levy stricter penalties against chronic drunk drivers failed to advance in the state House, The Inquirer reports. The measure was inspired by the death of Deana Eckman, whose parents plan to renew their push in 2021.

REASSIGNED: Two Allegheny County sheriff’s deputies were reassigned and are under investigation after they posed for a photo with a business owner who has repeatedly flouted COVID-19 orders, the Post-Gazette reports. Crack’D Egg posted the photo Saturday, as it defied Gov. Tom Wolf's three-week ban on indoor dining.
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Any amount makes a difference, but if you contribute $15/month or $180/year, you'll get this exclusive tote bag. Congrats to Tealia H. for claiming a tote yesterday.
RIVER OF THE YEAR: What makes one Pennsylvania river better than another? You'll have to decide for yourself! Voting is now open for the state-sponsored contest which comes with a $10,000 grant.

TRUE TEST: Alright, it's time to weed out just how many of you are true Pennsylvanians. This is where the rubber meets the road. Who has heard of boilo? If you haven't, we'll forgive you, but catch up here — it's a coal country classic.

PLAY ON: With many schools in Pennsylvania teaching children remotely, you may think that snow days (like the ones we should see later this week) are a thing of the past. Not so in Bucks County, where several local school districts plan to maintain the tradition

FARM WITH A TWIST: An indoor, vertical farm is coming to the former brownfield Bethlehem Steel site. "Think about how far we have come in just two decades since the Steel closed down, a farming operation is moving in," a state senator said.

ANOTHER FIRST: The first Black woman to become a firefighter in Erie is moving up the ladder to lieutenant. "I feel like I wasted time not going for it sooner. I can kick myself now, I guess, for wasting time," Seenah Mischel, a U.S. Army vet, said. "Because once I got into it I was so happy and fulfilled I can't imagine myself doing anything else."
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.

Friday's answer: Astronomical

Congrats to our daily winners: Edward M., Gail H., Susan D., George S., Heidi B., Dianne K., Lynne E., Doug W., Beth T., Carol D., and Joel S. 
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