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Millions in student loan relief coming for Pa. nurses

Plus, lawmakers vote to extend dozens of COVID-19 waivers.


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Your Postmaster: Spotlight PA Staff
September 30, 2021
Another extension, lawmaker recovering, supporting nurses, odor fines, election directors, and a cannabis candy warning goes viral. Hello Thursday. 

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The Pennsylvania legislature has unanimously voted to extend dozens of regulatory waivers put into place last year to help health-care providers fight COVID-19, Spotlight PA reports.

Wednesday’s action will keep the relaxed rules in place until March 2022. Among the waivers extended are those allowing out-of-state practitioners to treat patients in Pennsylvania, permitting retired or lapsed professionals to return to medicine, and expanding who can give a vaccine.

Gov. Tom Wolf will sign the bill.

THE CONTEXT: Without action, the waivers would have expired today, potentially exacerbating ongoing staffing crises in hospitals and long-term care institutions.

Health-care workers and their advocates had warned any lapse could have renewed administrative burdens and made fighting the pandemic more difficult.
The legislature is expected to consider a number of bills that would make some of the regulatory suspensions permanent. An independent commission is studying the impact of the waivers and which should stay in place to remove barriers to employment in the state.
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"He is working toward a full recovery which will take a little time still."

—A spokesperson for Sen. Pat Browne, who was seriously injured in a motorcycle crash and is expected to return to Harrisburg soon

COVID-19 UPDATE: The White House has a plan to keep the pandemic response going if the government shuts down; YouTube is cracking down on anti-vaccine videos; and a federal court has rejected a request from Pennsylvania parents to exempt their kids from the mask rule. To find the vaccine, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX).
» CRISIS OF CARE: Join us Friday, Oct. 8 at noon ET via Zoom for a free Q&A on rising rates of Alzheimer's disease in Pennsylvania, the barriers to care, and the solutions urged by advocates. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
Don H. shares this photo of a rather large fly agaric mushroom seen along Honey Creek in Reeds Gap State Park. Apparently both poisonous and edible, Don shares his personal opinion: "DO NOT EAT!" We'll take your advice. Send us your gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
NURSE AID: Pennsylvania will spend $6.5 million in federal pandemic funding to support and retain nurses. The Capital-Star reports the money will be available for student loan relief, apprenticeships and industry partnerships, and residency and mentorship programs.

CRACKER CITATION: After receiving several complaints of a “sweet-smelling” odor, the Wolf administration issued two violations to Shell, which is building an ethane cracker plant in Beaver County. According to the Allegheny Front, inspectors found the company violated its air permit.

STAYING PUT: Steve Ulrich, recently demoted from being York County's elections director, will still supervise the November election, per The York Dispatch. Westmoreland County, meanwhile, will not have anyone in the position until after voting concludes this fall. 

NEW REQUIREMENT: Allegheny County will require all executive branch employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 1. About 75% of workers who fall under the mandate have already been vaccinated, according to TribLIVE. 

'CRISIS SITUATION': Greene County saw the greatest population drop in southwest Pennsylvania over the past decade, and officials say the area has failed to replace jobs lost during the decline of the coal industry. The Post-Gazette finds that the region's suburbs, meanwhile, have grown thanks to Pittsburgh's "eds and meds" economy. 
PHILLY PROTEST: Dozens of people gathered at Philadelphia City Hall to decry the treatment of Haitians at the border. "What we saw was against humanity," said Numa St. Louis, a Haitian-American, per WHYY. 

TWITTER INFAMY: People giving out cannabis candy for Halloween? Bensalem police are warning local TV viewers about it, and Twitter is having a field day mocking the prospect

HIGHWAY HISTORY: Lincoln Motor Court, a little slice of Americana along Pennsylvania’s Lincoln Highway described by The Inquirer as "a U-shaped motel consisting of 12 small cabins," can be yours for just $224,900

WHAT TO LISTEN TO: Yesterday brought the sad news that the ivory-billed woodpecker has officially been declared extinct. It made me think of this beautiful song Sufjan Stevens wrote for the so-called "Lord God Bird."

THE COMEBACK: In less depressing animal news, dozens of young eastern hellbenders — Pennsylvania’s official state amphibian — were released into the Susquehanna as part of an initiative spearheaded by Lycoming College.
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