Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

Inside Pa.'s race to hit vaccine deadline


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
March 29, 2021
Vaccine push, presidential road plan, House vacancy, last place, felony candy, political pressure, and a vino victory. It's Monday, welcome to the week.
DON'T WAIT ANY LONGER: Donate any amount right now to show us how much you love PA Post every morning. We rely on our members to support our unique, high-quality journalism. Join us now »»

Gov. Tom Wolf has embraced a White House goal to open vaccine eligibility to all adult residents by May 1. But first, the state must move beyond Phase 1A, which prioritizes health-care workers, people older than 64, and anyone older than 16 with certain high-risk conditions.

In order to do that, the state has directed vaccine providers to clear their waitlists and schedule appointments for anyone who currently qualifies by March 31 (though those appointments can extend far beyond that date).

With that deadline looming, Wolf is confident the state is on track to meet it. But others on the ground, including local officials and vaccine providers, are wary of promising too much, Spotlight PA reports.

As of last week, Fayette County was working to schedule about 13,000 appointments through April. "When you have a rag-tag team of volunteers who you’re telling, ‘You have to make 13,000 calls by the end of the month,’ it’s just not realistic," a county commissioner said. 

THE CONTEXT: As of Friday, 3.18 million people had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine in Pennsylvania, according to state data. The health department estimates there are about 4 million eligible people in Phase 1A, and officials expect about 80% of them to seek the vaccine.

While high-level statistics show the state is making progress after a sluggish start, county-level data shows that some Pennsylvanians are apparently faring better snagging a vaccine appointment based on where they live.

In Beaver County, only 15% of residents had received at least one shot as of March 24. That’s in stark contrast to neighboring Butler County, where 30% of residents had received a shot, and Allegheny County, where that number was 31%.


"Mister Zuckerberg, I just want a yes or no answer." 

—U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D., Pa.) asking Facebook's CEO if the platform bears any responsibility for the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol 
VACCINE UPDATE: New Jersey plans to open vaccine eligibility to anyone over 54 by next Monday. Meanwhile, Rutgers University became the first college in the country to require vaccinations for returning students. For vaccine providers, check Spotlight PA's map and county-by-county listing.
» The Fettermans: Join Spotlight PA at 5 p.m. April 6 for a conversation and reader Q&A with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Second Lady Gisele Fetterman on immigration, legal cannabis, racism, and more. RSVP FOR FREE

POST IT: A glowing sky at sunset over Cumberland Township, near Gettysburg. Thanks, Lex M., for sharing! Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us at @spotlightpennsylvania.
ROAD TRIP: President Joe Biden is coming to Pittsburgh — a city famous for its bridges, potholes, and lead-tainted water system — to unveil a massive infrastructure plan worth trillions. On Wednesday, he's expected to tout his plan to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges, water infrastructure, and more, all while tying it to job creation that could boost the ailing economy, per Reuters. Will it actually happen? The odds are long.

SPECIAL NOMINEES: A former aide to state Rep. Jeff Pyle, a retired school superintendent, and a Waynesburg University student have all been chosen to run for Pyle's vacant 60th District House seat in a May 18 special election, the Indiana Gazette reports. The candidates were tapped by the local Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties to replace Pyle, who retired for health reasons earlier this month.

WORST IN NATION: COVID-19 drove Black unemployment higher in Pennsylvania than anywhere in the nation, a new Economic Policy Institute study finds. Nearly one in five Black Pennsylvanians was unemployed at the end of 2020, as a slow economic recovery saw the reemergence and reinforcement of existing equity gaps, WHYY reports.

FELONY THEFT: Seventy-year-old Blaine Hildebrand of Cambria County faces seven years in prison for the theft of a $2.19 candy bar. That's because low-level shoplifting offenses automatically become felonies in Pennsylvania when a person's been charged twice before, regardless of an item's value. The ACLU says the case speaks to systemic flaws, while the York Dispatch reports Hildebrand's third strike may in reality only be his second.

CAMPAIGN CONTROVERSY: Former congressman and powerful Philadelphia Democrat Bob Brady stands accused of urging a local progressive candidate to end her primary campaign in exchange for his support for a future judicial appointment, The Intercept reports. KYW says Brady's Democratic City Committee also won't endorse progressive DA Larry Krasner — only the second citywide incumbent in 45 years not to get its backing.
GOT 3 MINUTES? Take our reader survey and tell us what you think of Spotlight PA so we can continue to improve our journalism for you. Five participants will be chosen to get an awesome Spotlight PA tote bag.
WINE WIN: The state Supreme Court ruled licensed specialty wine importers and distributors can ship directly to restaurants and bottle shops, avoiding the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board as an unwanted middleman. Philly Eater calls the decision a "huge win" for those shops and distributors, and one that could mean more reasonably priced wine for all of us in the long term

EXTENDED ENROLLMENT: Pennsylvania's Affordable Care Act marketplace, Pennie, is open for business. The marketplace extended its special COVID-19 enrollment period until Aug. 15, with expanded tax credits for new and existing customers and help paying hefty COBRA premiums for people who were laid off or lost income due to the pandemic, The Inquirer reports. 

INTERPRETIVE ART: A U.S. court has sided with a photographer who said Andy Warhol used her portrait of late music icon Prince without permission or payment. Warhol's defenders said the Pittsburgh pop artist made the photo his own using a patented silk-screening process. The AP reports the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.

RUNNING WILD: Let's take a minute to appreciate the mightiness of Pennsylvania's small waterways this snow-melt season. A Reddit user recently captured a powerful current descending Table Falls in the Quehanna Wild Area of the Moshannon State Forest, and another snapped this photo of a gorge-ous™️ waterfall in NEPA.

HOOVILLE: The arctic-dwelling snowy owl hanging around Seven Springs ski resort in Somerset County is a rare Pennsylvania visitor. The game commission told WJAC it's likely the bird flew south when food became scarce at home. It could also be a process known as "eruption," which Wyoming Public Media says has sent snowy owls as far south as Atlanta and Mexico.
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: Aberration

Congrats to our weekly winner: Alice B.

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Neal W., Susan D., Jessica K., Mary Ellen T., Elaine C., Suzanne S., James B., Dixie S., Elizabeth W., Irene R., Craig E., George S., Dennis M., Patricia R., Joel S., Dianne K., David W., Ron P., Heidi B., Karen W., Myles M., George L., Marsha B., Mary Kay M., Carol D., Joyce O., Jill G., Bob R., Beth T., and Alice B.
Like PA Post? Share it with a friend.

Love PA Post? Chip in to support local journalism.

Forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

Copyright © Spotlight PA / The Philadelphia Inquirer, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
225 Market St., Suite 502A
Harrisburg, PA 17101

You're receiving this email because you subscribed to PA Post, which has combined with Spotlight PA to create Pennsylvania's largest statewide newsroom dedicated to accountability journalism.

You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.