After a year of struggling economy due to coronavirus pandemic, Pennsylvania has put the best foot forward to go back to its former glory. Here are the top news stories so far of 2021 out of Pennsylvania.
Governor Wolf thanks lawmakers for passing the federal aid package
Gov. Tom Wolf thanked the lawmakers for passing the relief package. When addressing Pennsylvania news reporters, the governor said the funds will help needy families and businesses. Also, American workers will get direct checks to supplement their income. Additional funding for the distribution of the vaccine will also be provided. Gov. Wolf also thanked Senator Casey for passing a bill that will cater to the needs of senior citizens in the State.
A doctor stabbed in the face when treating a patient
Late February 2021, a female doctor at Pennsylvania hospital (800 block of Spruce Street) was stubbed multiple times in the head by a patient. The police told Pennsylvania news reporters the doctor was in a stable condition. While it was not clear what sparked the attack, the hospital management cooperated with law enforcement agencies to conduct investigations.
The suspect was arrested and the weapon confiscated. And after containing the situation, all hospital operations continued as usual.
Ex-officers charged with George Floyd death
The story of Floyd was aired by Pennsylvania news reporters for a couple of weeks in 2020. Ten months after the incident, the deceased will finally get justice. The accused police offices were:
- Derek Chauvin
- J. Alexander Kueng
- Tou Thao
- Thomas Lane
Mr. Chauvin is charged with manslaughter and second-degree murder while the three others face separate charges – aiding and abetting. However, the prosecutors had stated that the three had acted together so the public should be spared the trauma of multiple trials. The trial is set for 8th March 2021.
The incident of Mr. Floyd was captured on camera and slowly gained international attention. What followed was weeks of protests with slogans `black lives matter’. The officers claimed that a store clerk had accused Floyd of buying cigarettes with a fake note.
According to reports that reached Pennsylvania news outlets, Chauvin’s defense strategy will focus on the methamphetamine found in the body. The judge also said only one member of Floyd’s family will be in the courtroom at a time due to limited capacity. The only people who will be allowed directly are:
- Selected media
- One family member of Chauvin
- One court technician
- Few spectators
Republicans state Gov. Wolf is trying to sabotage ballot question
The republican legislators told news houses that Gov. Wolf’s administration is trying to sabotage questions over the length of emergency declarations. In his response, the governor’s office said the ballot question was accurate and precise.
Over the last few months, the courts have unanimously backed Wolf to impose social distancing restrictions and limit business activity during the pandemic. And his administration has maintained that the proposed amendment won’t affect the powers.
Census delay on redrawing districts
In February 2021, the Pennsylvania lawmakers expressed concerns about the delay of census results. While addressing Pennsylvania news reporters, the lawmakers stated that such delays could result in the rescheduling of the 2022 primary. And that candidates needed to know the district lines.
During a hearing of the senate state government committee, Sen. Cris Dush expressed concerns that things were being done slowly in this age that we have computers.
But the Legislative Data Processing Center (Brent McClintock) said the recent projections of requisite data would be ready by September 2021. If the process is done similarly to 2011, then the job should be finished around May 2022.
In response, the National Conference of State Legislatures stated that the delays were caused by the pandemic. For instance, Pennsylvania State can start by drawing data and if there’s a lawsuit, they can revise it. The states can also get a handle on their demographic changes.
Marijuana Legalization gets the first GOP Sponsor
In late February 2021, there was a debate on Marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania. Over the years, the task has proved to be an uphill fight against the state GOP majorities. According to Pennsylvania news houses, the proposal was distributed by three senators:
- Sharif Street
- Daniel Laughlin
Sens. Street and Laughlin were of the view that regulating marijuana was a way of improving public safety. It would also boost the economy and raise money for the state treasury.
Gov. Tom Wolf has always been in support of the legalization of Marijuana since 2019. Most Pennsylvania news houses also reported that 15 states in the US have legalized Marijuana.
According to the executive director of reform of Marijuana laws (Jeff Reidy), this is the first marijuana legalization bill.
Health network allowed employees to skip vaccine Line
One of the biggest stories that caught the attention of reporters is how healthcare workers allowed immediate family members to skip vaccine lines. It brought questions of fairness and raised questions of strong public demand.
The department of health (DOH) stated that there should be special clinics for healthcare employees and eligible family members.
According to Geisinger, any family member who got the shot must have met the state requirements. And there was no time the state was informed the program would be at risk.
The facility has over 24,000 employees that are spread across northern and central Pennsylvania. They held vaccination clinics for employees in late January and early February. As long as a worker was within the state’s vaccine rollout, one was allowed to bring two family members. At the time of reporting of this Pennsylvania news, no additional vaccine clinics were rescheduled.
A professor at Baylor College of Medicine stated that the vaccination exercise shouldn’t be used as a `family perk of employment. And based on the federal guidelines, no person should be disadvantaged.
GOP meets to discuss Toomey Impeachment Vote
Early February, The Republican Party Committee met to discuss whether to impeach US Senator Pat Toomey or not. Based on the information that reached Pennsylvania news houses, Toomey maintained that Trump had committed an impeachable offense.
The meeting also involved whether they should censure other democratic officials. Meanwhile, Toomey supporters said the move was a waste of time. This was echoed by a state committee member (Lowman Henry) who opposed censuring the senator. Ultimately, the vote to convict Trump fell by 10 votes.
Ex-nursing Home administrator Indicted
On 25th February 2021, the federal prosecutors indicted Susan Gilbert (former administrator at Western Nursing Home) for charges of healthcare, conspiracy, and obstruction of an audit. At the time of reporting this Pennsylvania news, the administrator had maintained not guilty. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years.
While addressing news reporters, the federal investigators said Susan had deprived clients of patient care. The indictment came six months after the FBI agents were served with a warrant.
COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths Fuel Blame
Since the first case of Coronavirus was reported, Republicans have always accused the Trump administration of fueling outbreaks in nursing homes. And despite the increase in nursing home deaths, no investigation had been pointed to the policy. In defense, the nursing home association addressed Pennsylvania news reporters and said it was not aware that nursing homes were forced to accept patients.
At the time of reporting this Pennsylvania news, the Department of Health (DOP) had not released data on the number of patients who were yet to be released to nursing homes.
Pennsylvania is one of the few states where COVID-19 related deaths in health facilities were 50% higher than coronavirus-related deaths.
Also, The American Health Care Association told Pennsylvania news reporters that they should create separate units/floors, wings, and staff to handle admissions.
Debates on Coyote hunts in Pennsylvania
Another debate that caught the attention of Pennsylvania news reporters is Coyote hunts. Generally, the month of January and February is known for Coyote hunting. While Coyote is the most persecuted predator, over half a million are killed every year.
According to the Pennsylvania government, the Coyote population needs to be controlled as most of the killings are barbaric. The Game Commission also describes coyotes as `immigrants’. But the state continues to be home to hunt rodents like:
- Predatory birds
When addressing Pennsylvania news reporters, the officials from the Game Commission say Pennsylvania is home to over 100,000 coyotes.
While human interactions are rare, sick coyotes can bite and transfer rabies. In rural farms, coyotes can prey on sheep and goats. And they make the kill neat and clean – they go for the neck.
In Pennsylvania, hunters are allowed to mimic the noise of injured prey and use hunting dogs. This subject is an on-going debate in Pennsylvania.
Prosecutors say the police officer who killed a man with a sword was justified
On 9th February 2021, a police officer was called shortly after 7 pm by concerned citizens. When he arrived at the scene, he found the man holding a samurai sword and was threatening to kill others. The armed man refused to take the orders from the officer and that’s why he shot him.
The District Attorney Kevin Steele told Pennsylvania news reporters that the police officer lawfully used force. And that he acted to put the threat to a stop.
Saylor plans to step down as Chief justice
Pennsylvania chief justice has shown his plans to step down in April. According to Pennsylvania news houses, Saylor had served as chief justice for six years. While he intends to remain in court until his full-year retirement, he will relinquish the title to a colleague in a few months.
Having served the Pennsylvania government for long, Saylor’s track record of success speaks for itself. For instance, the Chief justice has worked for the attorney’s general office. He has also served as a Somerset County prosecutor.
With his plans to exit the office now in the public limelight, voters must seek his best replacement in a statewide election.
Detention centers release immigrant families
A few years ago, many Pennsylvania news reporters stated that the government used the LEESPORT facility to detain immigrant families. But a report released by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey stated the government released several families. And that it was no longer holding parents and their children – most of them were seeking asylum.
In mid-January 2021, the senator’s office released a statement to Pennsylvania news houses stating that US immigration had confirmed the release of the families. A week before the statement was issued, the government had released 25 people that consisted of 8 families. The executive director of group Aldea also confirmed the report. And this process happened in every corner of the US.
The LEESPORT facility is located about 65 miles from Northern Philadelphia. It’s worth noting that the immigration group had long demanded the end of family detection. In fact, at one time the Pennsylvania government had refused to renew the center’s license.
In a tweet, Senator Casey said he was pleased with how the families were released. And this was a bold step to deliver justice to vulnerable migrant families.
Judge approves the sale of Amusement Park
Early March 2021, a federal bankruptcy court judge (Jeffrey Deller) approved the sale of a park in southern Pennsylvania. The Park to Keldon Holdings LLC is a century-old and was going for a cash price of $1.2 million.At the time this Pennsylvania news was released, only ten parties had expressed interest. The sale included:
- Historic blue streak roller coaster
- Hotel Conneaut
- A campground
- It’s rides
Jim Becker (a trustee in the park) told Pennsylvania news reporters that the sale was scheduled at this time to prepare for the summer season. He also emphasized that the park was sold as-it-is to open for the upcoming summer season.
Lawmakers request for improved vaccine distribution
Early March, the lawmakers requested state officials to give vaccines to seniors. During an Older Adult Services Committee hearing, the state representative said there were horror stories of how hard it is to get an appointment. Sometimes, there was no communication and the state had to fix that.
On the other hand, the Department of Aging Secretary said that it was strategizing on how to help older adults make vaccine appointments.
In a separate briefing to Pennsylvania news media, the senior’s advisor said there were plans to administer the first two doses to seniors. But Lindsey Mauldin emphasized the government didn’t have enough vaccines to give to administer but there were plans to get more. A Pennsylvania Mechanical Insulation Contractor reported that even though he received the vaccine, his family did not.
To emphasize the subject of distribution, the chief executive of Leading Age PA (Adam Marles) said most seniors had the challenge to navigate the online appointment. Some seniors had expressed frustration and disappointment only exacerbated the problem.
Once the vaccine is available, the city officials said they can administer over 6000 people per day- patience is key.