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Pa. must 'do better' to vaccinate seniors, Wolf says


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Kamala Kelkar
February 12, 2021
Helping seniors, teacher vaccines, 'Bullhorn Lady,' shale bust, pollution lawsuit, Queen Anne, better masks, and a nightmare toy. You made it to Friday. 

With more than 2 million residents over the age of 64, Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday acknowledged the state needs to "do better" to vaccinate older Pennsylvanians. 

Since the state began rolling out COVID-19 vaccines in December, more than 350,000 people 65 or older have been at least partially vaccinated. That doesn't include people who live in nursing or personal care homes, where the federal government is tasked with doling out doses

Part of the issue is supply, Wolf said, though he also admitted that many people are facing "clogged" websites and phone lines when trying to book an appointment. 

THE CONTEXT: As Spotlight PA has reported, seniors have struggled to navigate the state's online map of providers and clunky and disjointed online sign-ups that get them nowhere.

Older Pennsylvanians in rural areas are at a particular disadvantage as many lack internet and don't live near a medical provider or pharmacy.

While both acknowledged the need for improvement, Wolf and Secretary of Aging Robert Torres on Thursday outlined a number of resources available to older Pennsylvanians:

  • Those who don't have access to a computer can call the Department of Health hotline at 1-877-724-3258 to learn about how to book an appointment.
  • PA Link to Aging and Disability Resources is also taking calls and offering assistance at 1-800-753-8827. Counselors can assist with arranging transportation. 
  • Each county also has an Area Agency on Aging, which may be able to assist. Some are assisting with scheduling and transportation. 
» If you learned something from today's edition, pay it forward and support Spotlight PA so someone else can benefit tomorrow.

"There is a significant public interest in ensuring that law enforcement officials not participate as bidders in the auction to their personal benefit."

—Commonwealth Court ruled that the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office must disclose who won public auctions of seized assets
VACCINE UPDATE: Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser on COVID-19, said that most members of the general public could have access to vaccines as soon as April. An unlikely coalition of education groups, meanwhile, urged Gov. Tom Wolf to prioritize teachers. For vaccine providers, check Spotlight PA's map and county-by-county listing.
POST IT: Thanks, Lois Ann M., for this shot of hungry birds taken near Morgantown. Send us your hidden gems (or snow pictures!), use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.

EXTREMIST GOING HOME: Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell decided that Rachel Marie Powell, known as the "Bullhorn Lady" who carried a megaphone during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, would be released from prison and put on house arrest, the York Daily Record reports. Howell is from rural Sandy Lake in Mercer County.

SHALE HANGOVER: In the last decade, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio produced a tsunami of natural gas that exceeded even the most optimistic projections. That wealth of gas was supposed to translate into newly thriving local economies, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Instead, counties that pumped out nearly all of the Appalachian region’s natural gas had less personal income and job growth than the states as a whole and the nation over that time period, and their populations declined.

CHURCH AND STATE: More than 40% of Philadelphians are Black, yet they have received just 17% of the 129,000 doses administered in the city so far, though that number has steadily improved, The Inquirer reports. Faith leaders and hospitals are hearing a call to fix that and partnering with hospitals.  

UNSETTLING SETTLEMENT: State and federal officials made a $7.6 million settlement with American Zinc Recycling in a lawsuit over its pollution, the Morning Call reports. The Palmerton plant was the source of pollution that caused the deforestation of Blue Mountain north of Lehigh Gap. The site and surrounding area were designated a Superfund site in 1983.

DEADLY YEAR: The head of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs is concerned overdose deaths in 2020 may set a new record, the Center Square reports. Secretary Jennifer Smith said last year's tally stands at 3,954, though it could take until the end of 2021 to compile months of missing data. 


REGAL BY DESIGN: The author of this slideshow writes it much better than I could: "If Romanesque Revival is the most brawny and earthy of the seven Victorian styles, then Queen Anne is the most flamboyant and elaborate." Sometimes called the Victorian style, "it left its mark of ornamental excess in and around Lancaster City from 1880 to 1900." 

OK, FINE: I weened myself off of online shopping during the pandemic because I'd use my reporter instincts to find the absolute best products, adding layers of complexity with internal discussions about function versus formality for things like tea bags. But this exhaustive list of substantiative masks on the market feels like it was written to troll me. 

SAME CONCEPT, NEW NAME: Nicole Holliday, assistant professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, recently helped NPR dissect the meaning of "cancel culture," and said it's actually a pretty unremarkable concept: "We've had the term 'boycott' forever and ever."

DELCO DIALECT: Kate Winslet faced one her toughest challenges yet while filming the Pennsylvania-set "Mare of Easttown": nailing the Delaware County accent. If you're not familiar with the soothing sounds of DelCo, let this YouTube video be your introduction

NOT VERY FUN: A Bucks County mom went viral after she shared a horror story about a toy called Bunchems. Apparently, about 150 of these little Velcro-like balls got stuck in her daughter's hair and it took 22 hours (!) to get them out. Judging by the Amazon reviews, this is a common problem

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.
U S A I M G M N E 

Yesterday's answer: Facetious 

Congrats to our daily winners: Tish M., Perry H., Karen W., Christopher R., Suzanne S., Rick D., Ron P., Michele K., Dennis M., Patricia R., Craig E., Lance L., Zelda R., George S., James T., Kim C., Dianne K., Heidi B., Bruce B., Jimmy N., David W., Joel S., Jarrod B., Patricia M., Carol D., David I., Irene R., Susan D., Bob R., Mary Ellen T., Theodore W., Becky C., Beth T., Carolyn T., Christine R., Jill G., Craig W., Neal W., John C., Jessica K., Dixie S., Anna T., and Cathy S.
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