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Scoring Pa.'s newly proposed congressional map

Plus, school mask rule tossed by state Supreme Court.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
December 13, 2021
Map checks, no room, school masks, outside oversight, election strategy, high stakes, campaign cast, and how to help storm-ravaged Kentucky. It's Monday. 
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» NO ROOM: Hospitals in places like Lancaster are overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases and diverting patients in response, LNP reports. In Montour County, a man died while waiting for care, with officials calling the death a "direct result of overcrowding and people not getting vaccinated."

» STAFF SHORTAGE: There is an exodus of nurses underway at hospitals across Pennsylvania, the Morning Call reports, with many claiming they're overworked and underpaid. COVID-19 stress is also a factor.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your zip code to 438829 (GETVAX).
» LAWFUL VS. AWFUL: Join us Thursday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. EST via Zoom for a free panel discussion on why killings by police often are ruled justified and who oversees the process. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
A peek at Longwood Gardens' fire and ice-themed Christmas display in Kennett Square, courtesy of @lora_exploresSend us your gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
MASK RULING: Pennsylvania's Supreme Court has thrown out the Wolf administration's statewide school mask rule, prompting some districts to immediately make masks optional amid rising case counts, per TribLIVE. Wolf spokesperson Beth Rementer described the decision as "extremely disappointing" and called masks "a proven and simple way to keep kids in school." The justices have yet to issue an opinion in the case. 

EXTERNAL REVIEWS: A state oversight panel says Pennsylvania State Police troopers who kill or injure someone should not be investigated by their own agency, and an independent prosecutor should review the case. Spotlight PA reports the endorsement came after the panel raised questions about the role of Beaver County's district attorney in a State Police shooting the DA himself later ruled justified.

IN THE ROOM: A retired U.S. Army colonel bent on overturning the 2020 election says he met with former President Donald Trump and his staff on multiple occasions, including a Nov. 25 Oval Office meeting that included several Pennsylvania legislators. The Washington Post's reporting doesn't name the lawmakers, but it does raise new questions amid an ongoing GOP-led review of Pennsylvania ballots.

ABORTION RULING: Texas' six-week abortion ban is still standing after a U.S. Supreme Court review that also left the door open for further challenges of the law — the most restrictive of its kind in the nation. Spotlight PA explains why this case and another pending high court abortion ruling have raised the stakes in the race for governor of Pennsylvania, where similar restrictions have already been introduced.

CAMPAIGN MOVES: State Sen. Scott Martin (R., Lancaster) is officially running for governor, with the frequent critic of the state's school mask rule joining a crowded GOP primary field. Meanwhile, a New York Times profile of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and physician Val Arkoosh says she's running as "the anti-Dr. Oz," quoting Arkoosh as saying, "It really does take a doctor to stand up to a doctor."
EVICTION FILINGS: Local restrictions and rent relief programs coincided with lower levels of eviction filings in the months since the U.S. Supreme Court tossed a federal ban, Princeton's Eviction Lab reports. Spotlight PA has chronicled the trouble with Pennsylvania's emergency measures.

SPORT REPORT: In Pittsburgh sporting news: The sale of the Penguins to the owners of the Boston Red Sox has been approved by the NHL and could be finalized this month; and the "fake slide" that gave the Pitt Panthers early ACC Championship momentum has now been banned by the NCAA.

HOW TO HELP: If you're in a position to help after catastrophic storms tore through the midwest over the weekend, leaving scores dead or missing in Kentucky, Louisville's Courier-Journal has a list of aid groups and organizations in need of time, money, and supplies

SPAM BLOCK: Outraged over Kellogg's decision to replace striking workers, including hundreds in Lancaster County, because the union employees rejected a contract offer, Redditors began flooding the company's job portal with fake applications and crashed the system.

SANTA SNAPS: Reporter Mike Holden is tracking Santa in Pittsburgh, from the liquor store to his motorcycle cruises — it's happened there before. And that reminded me of The Incline's historical look at letters to Santa from Pennsylvania kids, including my fave, Goosey White the "hammer boy."
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: Superfluous

Congrats to our weekly winner: Connie K.

Congrats to our daily winners: Michelle T., Ted W., Susan F., Susan N., Vicki U., David I., Joyce D., Garrett W., Al M., Barbara F., Doris T., Neal W., Mike B., Becky C., Jessica K., Elaine C., Jodi R., Kimberly S., Heidi B., Dan W., Steve D., David S., Susan D., Don H., Chris M., Tish M., Joel S., Bruce T., Dianne K., George S., Judith D., Irene R., Craig E., Johnny C., Bill S., Karen W., John P., James B., Alan V., Beth T., Brian B., and Elizabeth W.
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