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How Pa.'s vaccine rollout has failed Latinos


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Kamala Kelkar
February 9, 2021
No outreach, cushy board, Fetterman launches, teacher vaccination, call the bluff, and an important update on chocolate. Treat yourself, it's Tuesday.

Pennsylvania's failure to launch targeted campaigns around its coronavirus vaccine distribution has left many at-risk residents and communities at a tremendous disadvantage, Spotlight PA reports.

The state’s map of vaccine providers — which includes information on how and where to book coveted appointments — appears only in English. And a translated fact sheet on the vaccine for Spanish speakers hasn’t been updated since late December, before adults 65 and over and younger people with select health conditions became eligible.

What's more, the Wolf administration hasn't done any specific outreach on the vaccine to communities that don’t speak English, many of whom have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Yet, roughly 1.4 million people — more than 11% of the state — speak languages other than English at home, according to U.S. Census data. 

THE CONTEXT: To the lament of many residents, the administration has stood by its localized, do-it-yourself system for finding and booking appointments.

And the majority of those who have been vaccinated so far have been white or of an unknown race, state data show. In the absence of official messaging from the administration, advocates who serve communities with less access say they have been deluged with requests for information on the vaccine. 

This isn't a novel problem. Spotlight PA reported last year on the lack of coronavirus-related information in other languages. The state also launched a much-needed rental relief program without forms available in languages other than English.

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"Bear dens often are well hidden, and even if you knew where one was, you wouldn’t want to stick your head in there for a look at what’s going on."

—Travis Lau, a Pennsylvania Game Commission spokesperson, on a new web cam inside a Monroe County bear den
VACCINE UPDATE: As the CDC predicted, the U.K. coronavirus variant is spreading rapidly through United States. Pennsylvania, meanwhile, may be preparing to launch some sort of centralized registration. 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: A cozy-looking Trexler Memorial Park in Allentown shot by Jill G. Thanks! Send us your hidden gems (or snow pictures!), use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
GOLDEN PARACHUTE: Members of Pennsylvania’s Gaming Control Board, whose responsibilities include meeting a few times a month, have among the highest-paid positions in state government, with annual salaries topping $145,000. And ex-state legislators are frequently on the shortlist when there’s an opening, Spotlight PA reports.

IT'S OFFICIAL: At 51, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is the first major candidate to officially launch a campaign for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Pat Toomey, according to WHYY. Fetterman is a Western Pennsylvania Democrat, who ran unsuccessfully for the position once before and has a steadily rising national profile.

PARTISAN POPULARITY: Do you have a stance on U.S. Rep. Scott Perry? He, in a failed scheme, tried to help President Donald Trump overturn the election. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the revelation has made him the most loved — and hated — congressman in the state.  

EXPANDED ELIGIBILITY: As teachers protested the Philadelphia school district’s initial mandate to return to classrooms this month, the city announced a plan to hold pop-up vaccination clinics for teachers and staff at district, charter, parochial, and independent schools, WPVI reports. 

FEEDING STUDENTS: More college students who are in financial straits are now eligible for food stamps through a temporary expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the Post-Gazette reports. Previously, students who were enrolled at least half time but didn't meet certain criteria, like working 20 hours a week, weren't qualified. 

WHERE’S THE LIE? My fellow NPR devotees might have heard about the Articulation and Projection 101 teacher at Point Park University in Pittsburgh who donated 750 face shields to Allegheny General Hospital. Before the pandemic, the class would wear them during student performances to shield themselves from vigorous enunciations, because it’s like the “splash zone at Sea World.” The truth is, this may or may not be the real story on Bluff the Listener segment of "Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!" 

STYLE CHECK: In an effort to prevent the spread of disinformation, WITF is changing its style when it reports on elected officials to show connections to election fraud and the insurrection. Example: “Sen. (name), who signed a letter asking members of Congress to delay certifying Pennsylvania’s electoral votes despite no evidence that would call those results into question, today introduced a bill.”

NOT A REVERSAL: When former Philly Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho was recently asked to explain why reverse racism doesn't exist, he recalled calling a "huge" fellow player who was a bully the worst teammate in the history of all teammates. “Think of how silly it would be to say, ‘Well, Emmanuel, that’s being a reverse bully,'" he said around the 34:40 mark on the Unlocking Us podcast.

RAISING THE BAR: We asked for your favorite Pennsylvania-made chocolates, and readers delivered. So now let's go support local businesses and enjoy some of the best chocolate in the country.

The response we heard the most? Wilbur Chocolate in Lititz, home to the world-famous Buds. Russ T., Kimberly D., and Jay L., meanwhile, suggested Romolo Chocolates in Erie, which carries sponge candy (a speciality that apparently originated in nearby Buffalo).

Here are other suggestions from PA Post readers: 

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.

Yesterday's answer: Ostentatious

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Susan D., Jarrod B., Jill G., David I., Neal W., Ron P., Mary Ellen T., Irene R., George S., Gerald W., David W., Heidi B., John C., Joel S., Tom M.,  Dianne K., Keith F., Rick K., Karen W., Carol D., Christopher R., Kim C., Christine M., and John H.   
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