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Pa. opens vaccine to all adults a week early


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
April 13, 2021
Vaccine openings, bad grades, no-bid ethics, PSERS explained, Cutler quarantined, and on the Appalachian Trail. It's Tuesday, thanks for checking in.

All Pennsylvanians 16 and up are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, a significant milestone in the state's months-long and turbulent rollout

Open eligibility was originally due to start next week, but state officials said lagging demand led them to push that timeline up. 

"We realized the need to keep the demand at its highest propensity possible was incredibly important," Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam told reporters. 

It's unclear how soon appointments will be booked for all who want them, but the state said more providers will be added to the supply chain, which has about 2,800 total vendors but only 230 that are currently getting doses, per The Morning Call.

State officials want 80% of the eligible population vaccinated when all is said and done. Nearly 50% has been so far, according to the CDC. Short-term hurdles remain, namely fluctuations in vaccine production and the federal supply. But experts say long-term hurdles may be the largest.

THE CONTEXT: At some point, vaccine supply will outstrip demand as vaccine-motivated people get their shots and the remaining pool becomes reflexively and mathematically more resistant.

Aware that this looming dynamic — the so-called "vaccine wall" — has big implications for herd immunity and our return to normal, the White House is running PSAs on NASCAR broadcasts, Country Music Television, and shows like "Deadliest Catch."

In Pennsylvania, the state is planning a media blitz of its own, while also partnering with "trusted messengers" like grassroots and community groups, health care providers, and unions to share vaccine information, The Inquirer reports. 

For vaccine providers, check Spotlight PA's map and county-by-county listing

» Learn something from today's edition? Pay it forward so someone else can tomorrow by making a contribution of any amount to Spotlight PA.


"We were seeing like 52 patients a day, averaging, and then COVID came and our volumes dropped in half. And that just really hurt the bottom line for so many hospitals."

—Anne Hardy, of the Bradford Regional Medical Center, on the pandemic strain being felt by already struggling rural hospitals

VACCINE UPDATE: Georgia recently paused vaccinations at some sites after 8 people suffered adverse reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, making it at least the third state to encounter the issue. The CDC is evaluating the situation. For vaccine providers, check Spotlight PA's map and county-by-county listing.
» FIGHTING MISINFORMATION: Join Spotlight PA at 5 p.m. April 20 for a conversation and reader Q&A about how partisan groups are masquerading as local news in Pennsylvania and undermining public trust. RSVP FOR FREE

POST IT: Thanks, Suzanne F., for this shot of the D&L Trail in Bucks County. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us at @spotlightpennsylvania.
PASS-FAIL: Pennsylvania's infrastructure got a C-minus in a Biden White House report that counts 7,540 miles of highway and 3,353 bridges in poor condition and billions needed for our drinking water systems and schools, per The Morning Call. Biden's multi-trillion dollar proposed fix faces a bumpy road of its own.

NO-BIDS: A Lancaster County constable's private business has won "most, if not all" of the no-bid, taxpayer-funded contracts to provide security at local COVID-19-related facilities, LancasterOnline reports. The constable said he started the company to help fellow out-of-work constables, but ethical concerns and infighting abound.

CLOSING TIME: State Rep. Jordan Harris (D., Philadelphia) is again pushing a bill to let some Pennsylvania bars and restaurants stay open until 4 a.m., if their local government agrees. But while you might expect the owners to be thrilled about the possibility, the Post-Gazette found many who think the added runway would be "more trouble than it’s worth."

PSERS PRIMER: The scandal engulfing Pennsylvania's largest pension fund grows more complicated by the day, with multiple investigations underway, disputed investments, and problematic math. The Inquirer has a good explainer on the FBI's involvement, the subpoenas, the money, and what it all might mean for Pennsylvania taxpayers and teachers.

CONFIRMED EXPOSURE: Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) is in quarantine after being exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19. The Capital-Star reports Cutler did not say whether he tested positive or where the exposure had occurred but did vow to follow CDC guidelines. The House was in session three days last week. 

LONG HAUL: Aspinwall resident Tim Geary is hiking 2,193 miles through 14 states, including Pennsylvania, on the iconic Appalachian Trail — a melanoma research fundraiser for his wife who died last year. "We talked about this before she died," Geary told TribLive. "She wanted me to have a plan."

CRIMINAL TROVE: A retired FBI profiler and forensic linguist has donated thousands of documents on Ted Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber, to California University of Pennsylvania. The school plans to digitize the records and make them available to researchers, per the AP.

SCARY MOVIE: The legend of a haunted Brentwood home is closer to becoming a movie, with a screenwriter now chosen, per Pittsburgh City Paper. If you want a preview, you can rent a room at the actual house. The former occupant says it's "clean" of evil and has a "Downton Abbey" feel.

FISH FOOD: At least somebody's excited about the cicadas. Pennsylvania anglers say the incoming brood of insects will make great bait. "It’s like a steak to these fish," one told Erie Times-News. "Like a big filet mignon." Good to know it's not just my yellow lab.

TIL: Philadelphia's Swann Memorial Fountain is named for a man who thought water fountains could curb alcoholism and its location was once used for public executions. Billy Penn has more on the Philly icon here.

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: Everything

Congrats to our daily winners: Mary Ellen T., Craig W., Becky C., Theresa T., Patricia M., Susan D., Yvette R., David I., Theodore W., Irene R., Neal W., Dixie S., Joel S., Keith F., Elaine C., Beth T., Elizabeth W., Myles M., Jill A., James B., Meg M., Dennis M., Diane P., Sandra S., Bob R., Al M., Christine M., Tish M., Christopher R., Dianne K., George W., Heidi B., Karen W., George S., Suzanne S., Chris A., Carol D., Kerri G., Mary Kay M., Kim C., David W., Margaret D., Patricia R., Rick D., Kevin H., and Christine M.
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