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Pa.'s higher education system faces COVID-19 cuts

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Your Postmaster: Jordan Wolman
December 29, 2020
Nursing home vaccines, stimulus checks, higher education cuts, donating plasma, and a little snack for goats. Why not? It's Tuesday.
CHALLENGE EXTENDED!: We're $7,160 away from hitting our $10,000 challenge goal by Dec. 31. Become a member now and your gift will be DOUBLED. Let's end 2020 strong!

Staff and residents of 126 nursing homes across Pennsylvania began receiving COVID-19 vaccinations this week, TribLIVE reports. CVS Health and Walgreens, in partnership with the federal government, are in charge of distributing doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

More than 72,000 health-care workers in the state have been inoculated since the U.S. approved the first vaccines on Dec. 11. This week, 58 hospitals are slated to receive tens of thousands of additional doses, Health Secretary Rachel Levine said Monday.

While the program is federal, Levine promised the state will launch a dashboard, so the public can keep track of where facilities are in the line. 

More than 8,400 residents of long-term care facilities have died since the beginning of the pandemic.

THE CONTEXT: Pennsylvania has seen a surge in cases in recent weeks. While the daily numbers have declined, that is likely because people did not get tested during the holiday. 

"We are concerned we could see an increase again in January if people don’t stay the course," Levine said.

Responding to the increase, Gov. Tom Wolf temporarily banned indoor dining and placed additional restrictions on some businesses. Those measures are set to expire Jan. 4.


“She was first, but she also is one of our best. I wish I could clone her.”

— David Kilmer, executive director of Red Rose Transit Authority in Lancaster County, on the 41st anniversary of Denise Smith becoming the agency's first female bus driver

POST IT: The sun kisses fresh snow on a field in Tyler Hill.
Thanks, Christine S! Send us your hidden gems (or your snow photos!), use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
STIMULUS QUARREL: Months of political back-and-forth over a new COVID-19 relief bill ended Sunday night, with one point of contention still in Congress: Should the stimulus check be $600 or $2000? Either way, here's a WHYY report on everything you need to know about the one-time payment and pandemic federal unemployment benefits.

IDENTITY CHECK: PennDOT is expecting as many as 300,000 applications next year for REAL IDs because, as of October, it will be required to enter airports or most federal buildings, the Post-Gazette reports. Some state Republicans spent years fighting the requirement.

TRANSPARENCY: Facing increased scrutiny, the Pennsylvania State Police invited journalists to one of its barracks for a presentation on deadly force, the Bucks County Courier Times reports. Law enforcement has been historically reluctant to share its use-of-force policies with the public, though that's slowly changing. 

PANDEMIC AND PASSHE: The New York Times examined the impact of COVID-19 on higher education through the lens of the state-owned Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The school, an hour east of Pittsburgh, is just one struggling as the state's public higher education system faces difficult financial questions.

SEEKING ANSWERS: Danielle Brown has spent most of 2020 on a hunger strike, demanding that Duquesne University release records of her son Marquis Jaylen “JB” Brown's death on campus in 2018, WESA reports. Her son was 21, and the university has stated that he broke open a dorm window with a chair and then jumped out, but she doesn't believe that's how he died and wants to see the evidence. 
» A STRONG START: We need to raise $7,160 in the next three days to unlock a $10,000 matching gift from The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. That's a lot of money for a small, reader-funded newsroom like ours.

Join now and support Spotlight PA's essential journalism today.

TROLLING FOR CASH: All Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman said he wanted for Christmas was for Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to make good on a $1 million promise to anyone who found proof of voter fraud. Then a boost from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow after the holiday became the gift that kept on giving to Fetterman's Twitter feed.

IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR ... a way to help: Money is often the best way to help people and organizations, but TribLIVE has another, more scientific idea: donate plasma. Here are some reasons why you might want to consider it.

TOUCHING: The biological effects of a hug and also isolation are remarkable, so a senior center in Virginia came up with a cheap solution so people like Dudley Haynie, 86, could hug his 56-year-old son.

LONELY HOOPSTERS: These Lancaster County kids just want to play ball. But they're struggling to find a court to play pickup, since both the city and school district has removed the outdoor rims.

A LITTLE SNACK: If you live in the Philly area, you have plenty of options for how to recycle your Christmas tree. But I highly recommend the method of donating your tree to the Philly Goat Project. Turns out, goats can devour a Christmas tree in 20 minutes. Who knew?

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 answer: Fortuitous 

Congrats to our daily winners: Tish M., Patricia R., David W., Ron P., Lance L., Joel S., John C., Dianne K., Patricia M., Karen W., Bette G., Kim C., George S., Dennis E., Deb N., John H., Bill C., Carol D., Beth T., Larry C., Irene R., Theodore W., Mary Ellen T., Jarrod B., Susan D., David I., Art W., and Chip K.
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