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Monkeypox briefing, the likely futile push for $2K relief checks, and fixing a teacher shortage

Plus, a 'direct path' from Harrisburg to the U.S. Capitol riot.

A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
July 20, 2022
Health briefing, 'Stop the Steal,' lawmaker protest, 'bad' checks, teacher crisis, and high heat. It's Wednesday and National Pennsylvania Day.
Nearly 2,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in the U.S., including more than 60 in Pennsylvania.

Health experts stress that the risk of catching the virus is low. The current outbreak appears to be primarily affecting men who have sex with men, but monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection.

It can be spread through direct contact with the infectious lesions as well as through contact with items that have been touched by the rash and through prolonged respiratory secretions. 

The country's testing and vaccination regime has been slow to get off the ground, writes physician Dhruv Khullar in the New Yorker. 

Pennsylvania's Department of Health is recommending that health care providers test anyone who presents with a rash that looks like monkeypox or who is high-risk and has a rash. But WHYY reports that access in Philadelphia — where more than half of the state's cases have been reported — is limited

THE CONTEXT: You are likely wondering if you need a vaccine and how you can access it. 

At the moment, experts say not everyone needs to get the vaccine in order to contain the virus. 

In Philadelphia, the local department of health is offering it to men who have sex with men and people who have been exposed to a case, per The Inquirer. Allegheny County is similarly reserving its limited stock of vaccines for "high-risk individuals," according to the Post-Gazette. 

The CDC recommends avoiding contact with people with a rash that appears to be monkeypox, not touching fabric handled by a person with the virus, and washing your hands. 

"This is why I have not officially withdrawn from the ballot at this point... I can't until the primary election results have been certified."

—Outgoing state Rep. Matthew Dowling (R., Fayette) on a lawsuit that is preventing the GOP from naming a candidate for his open seat

» BUDGET BREAKDOWN: Join us Tuesday, July 26 at 6 p.m. on Zoom for a free breakdown of Pa.'s multibillion-dollar budget and how it will impact you. Register for the event here and submit questions to events@spotlightpa.org.

Rails to trails with a friend in Parker, Pa., via Anne S. Send us your Pennsylvania pics, use #PAGems on IG, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
DIRECT PATH: The New York Times Magazine has a deep dive into the "Stop the Steal" movement that heavily focuses on state Sen. Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania's Republican candidate for governor. "In retrospect, the path from Harrisburg on Nov. 7 to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 is a direct one," the magazine reported. 

SUPREME ARREST: U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean of Montgomery County was one of more than a dozen Democrats arrested near the U.S. Supreme Court while protesting the fall of Roe v. Wade, Axios reports. U.S. Capitol Police said the lawmakers were blocking traffic and were arrested for "Crowding, Obstructing or Incommoding."

NO RELIEF: Gov. Tom Wolf's plan to send many Pa. households $2,000 checks appears to be going nowhere, the Reading Eagle reports. The checks were not included in the state's new budget or the plan to spend the state's remaining stimulus money, and a spokesperson for state House Republicans has called it "bad policy."

STAFFING CRISIS: With officials warning that Pennsylvania will need thousands of new teachers by 2025, the Wolf administration has laid out a plan for filling the gaps, Capital-Star reports. The plan aims to increase the number of students enrolled in Pennsylvania's teacher-prep programs, relying on stronger recruiting strategies and expanded apprenticeship programs, too. Here's the full strategy.

CAMPAIGN COALITION: Politico reports that state Republicans are getting behind Doug Mastriano in the governor's race and that the man Democrats boosted in the primary could have a "real shot at winning." In related news: Mastriano's campaign is blaming a Facebook setting for deleted videos that The Inquirer said appeared to represent a timeline cleanse by the GOP gubernatorial nominee
ONGOING COVERAGE: Updates from yesterday's edition of this newsletter: Todd Robinson's long-delayed trial in Allegheny County was delayed again, this time to December. Robinson has been jailed while awaiting trial since 2017. And a contested bill that was set to become law by default if Gov. Wolf did nothing as of midnight Monday ultimately did, the PG reports.

PARK AND RIDE: Incoming state parks will include Pennsylvania's first dedicated to ATVs and other motorized recreational vehicles, WLVR reports, all as a statewide crackdown on illegal ATV use ratchets up.

HIGH HEAT: A ridge of high pressure has brought high temps to Pennsylvania, with the mercury set to reach the 90s across much of the state this week. Remember: state law bans leaving pets in hot cars, too.

PARK PUSH: The latest edition of our PA Local newsletter takes a look at the headwinds facing a renewed push for Pennsylvania's first national park, from NIMBY resistance to questions among Indigenous groups.

PENNSYLVANIA DAY: Today is National Pennsylvania Day, a manufactured holiday commemorating Pennsylvania's joining of the union. FOX43 suggests marking the occasion with a cocktail or two.
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: Bugs 🐜🕷🦟

Yesterday's answer: Arthropods

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Susan N.-Z., Don H., Elaine C., Susan D., Jessica K., Starr B., Kathy L., Becky C., Lynne E., Kimberly D., George S., James B., Dianne K., Nancy S., Karen W., David W., Sharon P., Kim C., Doris T., Michelle T., John P., and Alissa H.
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