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'Added fragility' for a strained caregiving system

Plus, imperiled dog law bureau says Wolf's budget plan isn't enough.


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February 11, 2022
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The caregivers, budget tour, endless wait, scooter spree, undisclosed terms, dog coin, and 60,000 bees were stolen from Giant. It's Friday! 
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A Wall Street Journal report finds that as America ages, familial support systems are getting older, too, with an estimated 19% of the nation’s 53 million unpaid family caregivers now 65 and older — up from 13% in 2004. 

Bob Tiller is 80 and managing care for his 101-year-old mother. That includes paying her bills, handling her finances, and driving the five hours from his continuing care community to hers in Western Pennsylvania as needed

One-hundred-year-old Elijah Gardner cared for his wife, Minnie Gardner, 94, at their home until August, when they realized it was time and moved into an apartment at an assisted-living community in Butler County.

"If anything happens to me, what would happen to her?" Elijah asked. 

THE CONTEXT: Pennsylvania's population is among the oldest in the nation, and its senior population is growing faster than all other age groups.

As demand climbs for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities — straining already insufficient safety nets and supports — the millions of hours of unpaid care provided by scores of loved ones each year becomes an increasingly indispensable part of the public health response

But as the Journal reports, the growing number of caregivers 65 and older is adding a "layer of fragility to an already strained family caregiving system."

Read about Pennsylvania's looming dementia care crisis here.
In appreciation of democracy. I want to make sure elections are not tampered with. I want my vote to count! With loveJeanne F. 

In appreciation of Spotlight PA for doing an excellent job digging deep to provide much-needed oversight on Pa.'s General Assembly. With loveCatherine W.
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"This father-and-son duo possessed a small artillery of firearms in their home, including more than a dozen machine guns and silencers. This type of fire-power is incredibly dangerous if in the wrong hands." 

—Homeland Security agent William S. Walker on the Bethlehem Township arrest of alt-right podcaster Joseph Paul Berger and his father
» GUILTY PLEA: A former University of Pittsburgh emergency management director has pleaded guilty to stealing more than 13,000 pieces of PPE from the school's stockpile and selling them online, TribLIVE reports.  

» CALLED OFF: Bucks County students were ready for a class trip to the nation's capital when the school's board called it off because of D.C.'s COVID-19 rules, the Courier Times reports.

» GOOD NEWS: New COVID-19 cases are averaging fewer than 5,550 per day in Pennsylvania, down from over 25,000 last month. PennLive reports Pennsylvania's health secretary is encouraged but not complacent.

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).

» BALLOT BATTLE: Join us Thursday, Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. ET via Zoom for a free Q&A on Pennsylvania's mail voting law, the ruling striking it down, and what's next. Register here and submit questions to events@spotlightpa.org

A beautiful February morning at Beltzville State Park in Carbon County. Thanks, Karen A.!  Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
BUDGET BLITZ: Gov. Tom Wolf has hit the road to drum up support for his $44 billion budget plan, which includes the largest-ever increase in aid for Pennsylvania's public schools. Wolf started by taking his case to teachers and district officials at Erie’s Pfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary School. And while that audience was certainly receptive, GOP lawmakers in control of the legislature are far less so

NO ANSWER: More than 1,200 Social Security field offices remain closed to walk-in service nationwide two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. In Pennsylvania, the doors are locked, and people say their calls are going unanswered, leaving those needing face-to-face assistance for ID cards, disability benefits, and more stuck in limbo. "I can't get no support," one exasperated man told WESA.

TRANSIT TEST: Pittsburgh's electric scooter pilot program could be replicated in other Pennsylvania cities if a bill moving through the state Senate is successful. E-scooters are illegal across the commonwealth, but last year's budget included a research-minded waiver of the rules for Pittsburgh. Some lawmakers want to give other cities an opening, calling the scooters a "part of the next generation of transportation."

CIVIL SUIT: A civil trial over a University of Pennsylvania student's suicide was settled after just two days of testimony, The Inquirer reports. Neither the attorneys for Ao “Olivia” Kong's parents nor those for Penn would comment on the terms. Kong's parents alleged the university knew their daughter was stressed and suicidal but failed to notify them or otherwise intervene before her death.

NOT ENOUGH: A proposed $3 million transfer in Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal won't be enough to save Pennsylvania's Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement from an ongoing funding crisis, state agriculture officials say. Capital-Star reports that while the millions would provide a much-needed boost for the agency, which monitors kennels and breeders, officials says a long-term and legislative solution is still needed.

CASE STUDY: State Police have explained how DNA was used to solve a 58-year-old Hazleton murder, and they've named their suspect, who died in 1980 at the age of 39. WNEP reports a key break in the case came from an 18-year-old student who helped police narrow down the list of suspects.

FALSE CLAIM: PolitiFact says a widely circulated video blaming President Joe Biden for bare shelves at a Dickson City Walmart is false. PolitiFact says a refrigeration issue led employees to temporarily relocate the perishables.

GRAND THEFT: Someone stole 60,000 bees from grocer Giant's headquarters on the Harrisburg Pike in Carlisle between Jan. 28 and Jan. 30, PennLive reports. Apparently "black market bees" are a thing. 

BLACK HISTORY: Pittsburgh-native Chuck Cooper was the first Black player drafted by an NBA team. He was also a WWII vet and the first Black department head in Pittsburgh city government. 

PLAY NEXT: Funk legend Betty Davis died this week at the age of 77. Rolling Stone remembers Davis' noteworthy marriage, her year spent with silent monks in Japan, and her quiet 40-year return to the Pittsburgh area.  

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.

*This week's theme: Arts and crafts

Yesterday's answer: Calligraphy 

Congrats to our daily winners: Irene R., Mike B., Becky C., Don H., Craig W., Michelle T., Doris T., Kevin H., Barbara F., Stephanie J., Darcy M., Beth T., Sandy B., Bonnie R., Al M., Stephen G., Jodi R., Sherri A., John A., Vicki U., Ted W., Mark O., Elaine C., Sheila C., Deb N., Ronnee G., Susan D., Kevin M., Nancy S., Starr B., Barbara O., Patricia R., Patricia M., Elizabeth W., Karen W., Lex M., Cynthia P., Suzanne O., Scott R., Bruce B., Chris M., George S., Tish M., Daniel M., Jude M., Fred O., Dan W., James B., Jill A., Rick G., Bill M., Sharon P., Dianne K., Kim C., Bill S., John P., Suzanne S., Pat B., Alan V., Wendy A., David W., Alice B., Christine R., Cindy G., Eddy Z., John F., Judith D., William S., Mary Jo J., and Maureen M.
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