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Stretching the monkeypox vaccine, amendment suit, and Rep. Kelly answers viral White House tweet

Plus, Mastriano posed for faculty photo in Confederate garb.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
August 29, 2022
Monkeypox strategy, Confederate garb, amendment suit, quote tweets, state's evidence, and walks on the wild side. It's Monday.

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration is looking to federal aid as a means of boosting the state's monkeypox response and stretching a limited vaccine supply. 

Spotlight PA reports the federal government has given providers approval to get five shots out of a one-dose vaccine vial.

Speaking after a recent news conference, Wolf said his administration is considering buying a "different kind of needle" to make that possible. 

State officials are also exploring whether federal money can be used to purchase blood tests for the virus, now a "public health emergency."

"We know that we have that need right now," Wolf told Spotlight PA. "We want to make sure we can use that money legally, and if we can, it's just a matter of how far we can use it."

Read Spotlight PA's full report on the effort here.

THE CONTEXT: The FDA-endorsed plan to stretch vaccine doses has already encountered hurdles (some syringe-related) and prompted the CEO of the only company making the shots to warn of "limited" safety data.

Biden administration officials responded to the latter by saying a 2015 study, co-authored by the same CEO, proved the method's efficacy.

As of Wednesday, more than 440 cases of monkeypox had been reported in Pennsylvania, according to federal data.

More than half of those cases are in Philadelphia, according to city data. Other parts of the state — including Delaware County, Beaver County, Pittsburgh, and State College — have also reported cases.

The virus, which spreads through extended close personal contact, can lead to rashes as well as respiratory symptoms, per the CDC


"We are exceedingly heartbroken and saddened, especially for her sister who was in training with her, her parents, and the whole Cahoon family."

—Capt. Travis Mueller on the death of 17-year-old Pennsylvania National Guard soldier Alyssa Cahoon, of Pleasant Mount, during routine training in South Carolina; Cahoon's family says she succumbed to a rare heart defect

It gives us great pleasure to share that we have been selected as finalists in multiple categories for the national 2022 Nonprofit News Awards by the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), among the most prestigious in the industry.

Best Investigative Journalism Award (large division)

Game-Changer Award Emerging Leader of the Year
  • Christopher Baxter, Executive Director, Spotlight PA
These impactful stories — a $19 million unemployment error coverup, exposing how the legislature spends millions of dollars on itself and makes it hard for the public to track, and our unmatched redistricting coverage — would never have happened without Spotlight PA. Our work isn’t just resonating here in Pennsylvania, but also setting a standard for newsrooms like ours across the country.

And this work can only continue with your support. Make a gift of any amount now in celebration of these honors, and help power some of the most important reporting in Pennsylvania.

Thank you!
Nick Beiling, Spotlight PA Membership Manager

» PA LOCAL: ERIE’S BLACK ÉMIGRÉS: Join us next Thursday, Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. via Zoom for a free Q&A with Armendia Dixon, an educator in two states post-Brown v. Board of Education. We will also discuss the legacy of the Great Migration in Pennsylvania and the history of Erie’s Black community. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org

A shot from last week's Tall Ships Erie 2022 maritime festival, via PA Poster Kimberly D. Have a cool image of your own to share? Send us your photos and art, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
PHOTO OPP: A photo of GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano posing in a Confederate uniform for a U.S. Army War College faculty photo in 2014 has emerged as the campaign's latest flashpoint, via Reuters. The college said the photo did not reflect its values. Some Mastriano supporters were quick to defend him, while critics noted his past support for protecting Confederate monuments.

NO ENTRY: Pennsylvania's four legislative caucuses have been barred from joining — to support or oppose — Gov. Tom Wolf's lawsuit against a slate of GOP-advanced constitutional amendments, including one that could lead to new abortion restrictions. The caucuses were asked to explain their positions in writing instead. The Post-Gazette (paywall) reports each of them did. Track the amendments here.

RELIEF PLAN: Capital-Star explains what Pennsylvanians need to know about the student loan relief plan unveiled by President Joe Biden last week. U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R., Pa.) was among the GOP critics of the plan called out by the White House on Twitter for having had their own COVID-era business loans forgiven. Kelly, who owns a group of car dealerships, responded on Friday.

RISK RULING: An Allegheny County judge says West Deer Township had sufficient reason to deny a fracking permit based, in part, on the driller's history of state environmental violations. The driller argued that the violations were only allegations and shouldn't count. The Post-Gazette (paywall) reports the judge's ruling indicated otherwise, citing "established" safety risks. Appeals are expected. 

PROFITS DROP: Health-care titan UPMC's 2021 profits surge appears to have slowed significantly in 2022. According to TribLIVE: UPMC reported $82 million in operating income for the first half of this year compared to $605 million in the first half of 2021. Supply-chain issues and labor shortages are among the reasons cited. UPMC also saw big losses on investments this year after big gains in 2021.
PROPERTY TAX REBATE: Did you or someone you know get a property tax or rent rebate from the state in recent years and learn you no longer qualify? We want to hear from you. Your stories will fuel our reporting on the steady decline in the number of households getting help from a lottery-funded program that's meant to help older or disabled Pennsylvanians with housing costs. Reach out to Spotlight PA reporter Charlotte Keith at ckeith@spotlightpa.org.

NEW SUIT: State Sen. Dan Laughlin (R., Erie) is suing the chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party and a local newspaper, saying a column written by the chair, Jim Wertz, and published by the paper, the Erie Reader, falsely said he was on a Jan. 6 pardon-request list, via YourErie.com.

FREE DAYS: The days of paying to get into the Allentown Art Museum are over. WHYY reports the museum has eliminated admission prices — the first time in 88 years — to become more equitable and inclusive. 

'SPORTS CITY': The family of Roberto Clemente says it's "at war with the Puerto Rican government" over a sprawling tribute to the late Pittsburgh Pirates legend that TribLIVE found "overgrown and in ruins."

THIRD PARTY: There's a new political party in Pennsylvania. It's called the Keystone Party, and it was formed by Libertarians who felt their old party had shifted too far right. City & State has an introduction.

REPTILE-LAND: Summer was (apparently) made for walking exotic pets in public, like this alligator seen frolicking at Philadelphia's Love Park, or this five-to-seven-foot python that got loose on a stroll in Duquesne.

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. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

*Note: We're going back to basics for the next two weeks, so no theme or "guess the theme" feature, but they will return.
Friday's answer: Collectibles

Congrats to our weekly winner: Chuck M.

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Becky C., Ted W., Jill M., Patricia M., Warren D., John H., Mike B., Joel S., Barbara F., Rebecca S., Deborah S., Ed R., Connie K., Wendy A., Jude M., Judith D., Brandie K., Karen W., Bessie R., David S., Bill S., Don H., Heidi B., Nancy S., Catherine B., George S., Steve D., Matt D., Eddy Z., Jane R., Stephen G., Kathy F., Gina L., Lewis Z., Kathy W., Kenneth J., Pat C., Irene R., Kevin M., John P., Jodi R., Al M., Susan R., Starr B., John A., Bruce B., Fred H., Kim C., Beth T., Daniel M., Anne Z., Kimberly D., David M., Suzanne S., Fred O., William M., James and Anne B., Stanley J., Dan W., Doug W., Jenel E., Moon M., Susan D., Mark O., John H., Elaine C., Dianne K., John P., Dave N., Margaret Mary H., Judy M., Kathy S., Marty M., Janet T., Ed M., Johnny C., Tom O., Eugene M., Sue D., Jody A., Michelle T., Dave K., Michael B., Jill K., Kate P., Susan C., David W., Gail H., John F., Tish M., and Lex M.

Last week's theme: Yard/garage sale or flea market 

Congrats to Catherine B. for getting it right and winning Spotlight PA swag.
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