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Voters to settle dispute between Wolf, lawmakers


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Sarah Anne Hughes
February 8, 2021
Rural obstacles, vaccine scam, constitutional change, incoming relief, abuse tips, Fetterman's run, photo history, and the best chocolate. It's Monday. 

About 6,000 people live in Sullivan County. There’s one stoplight, one public school district — and one hospital. 

The pharmacy and medical center are too small to take on the work of administering coronavirus vaccines. Most residents get their health care at hospitals or doctor’s offices at least an hour away in neighboring counties.

This is a common problem in rural Pennsylvania, Spotlight PA reports, where a large portion of the population is older. Now, local governments and nonprofits are trying to figure out the best ways to connect people in these areas with vaccines.

THE CONTEXT: Scheduling a vaccine appointment in Pennsylvania is already a competitive process exacerbated by a short supply and patchwork online scheduling systems.

But older residents — who are supposed to be among the first in line — in rural areas face more obstacles. They live far away from major chain pharmacies like CVS and Rite Aid, and may not have internet or a means of transportation.

To reach this population, the state recently coordinated vaccination clinics in Sullivan and Pike Counties. Still, mobilizing vaccination efforts in these areas takes more than just someone to give the shot.

As always, thank you for supporting Spotlight PA's essential journalism. If you're not a member, join today and help us make Pennsylvania stronger.


"We are seeing more isolation and more need. Our hope as we move into the spring and the weather breaks is things change and we turn the corner on some of that."

—Jesse Ergott, president and CEO of NeighborWorks, on how the suspension of in-person visits is affecting people in nursing homes nearly a year later
VACCINE UPDATE: Scammers intercepted calls to the Allegheny County Health Department’s hotline for appointments, as the state reported that more than 962,000 people have received at least one dose. RSVP for FREE for our reader Q&A on the COVID-19 vaccine and latest variants on Thursday at 5 p.m. For providers, check Spotlight PA's vaccine map and county-by-county listing.
POST IT: Fox tracks in a field, seen near Wrightsville. Thanks, Chris M.Send us your hidden gems (or snow pictures!), use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
LAST WORD: This spring, Pennsylvania voters will be asked to weigh in on one of the most contentious battles between Gov. Tom Wolf and the GOP-controlled legislature: whether lawmakers should have the power to unilaterally end disaster declarations. Spotlight PA breaks down what you need to know about the measure. 

INCOMING RELIEF: More than $570 million in relief for renters and those behind on their utility bills will soon be on its way, the Associated Press reports. Wolf will sign the measure, which also creates another grant program for small businesses and sends $197 million to private schools.

UNHEARD: At least three people warned Lebanon County authorities that Stephanie and Robert Duncan were potentially mistreating their children but were ignored, the tipsters told PennLive. The parents were charged last week with brutally harming their five children. 

JUST THE BEGINNING: The dismissal of 500 Pennsylvania toll workers years ahead of schedule shows how the pandemic is accelerating the replacement of people with tech in the workplace, the New York Times reports. The Turnpike Commission is trying to help laid-off workers find new jobs, though it may be difficult for some to find good-paying positions without acquiring new training or education. 

CLOSER TO OFFICIAL: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman may have filed official paperwork to run for U.S. Senate, but that doesn't mean he's made up his mind. Fetterman told WHYY he had to file the paperwork because he's raised roughly $1.4 million — federal rules state that candidates must register this way when they have at least $5,000 in donations. "Everyone deserves an answer," Fetterman said of his decision. "And they’re going to get an answer."

STUDENT LEADERS: Black and brown students in York County are urging Pennsylvania schools to adopt anti-racist curricula. "Talking about the Black, Latino, or Asian community from a removed point of view and reading it from a white author isn’t enough," said Central York High School senior Princess Gabriel. "We must include and hear other voices."

THE PAST AND PRESENT: With hate crimes at a 10-year high in the U.S., a new campaign by the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation shows how misinformation fuels violence, from the Jewish persecution in Nazi Germany to the oppression of marginalized communities today. The organization's curriculum is being taught in the city's public schools. 

HISTORY PRESERVED: First Lady Frances Wolf has launched the "One Lens" project, aimed at documenting Pennsylvania during the pandemic through photos. You can submit your own here through March 8.

EVEN SWEETER: Hershey is raising the price of its iconic Kisses. Honestly? I've never been a big fan. For my money, the best chocolate made in Pennsylvania comes from either Miesse in Lancaster or Gertrude Hawk in the northeast. I would love to hear your favorite Pa.-made candies.

READING REC: Now added to my library list: “Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob," written by a Johnstown native about his grandfather's connection to the local mafia. It's even recommended by Dave Davies

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Friday's answer: Dissonance

Congrats to our weekly winner: Cynthia H.

Congrats to our daily winners: Dixie S., Neal W., Susan D., David I., John C., Jill G., Lil N., Kim C., Ron P., Carol D., Joel S., David W., George S., Mary Ellen T., Martin C., Christopher R., Craig E., and Jarrod B.
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