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Your common coronavirus vaccine questions, answered | Morning Newsletter

And, how 2020 changed what it means to break news.

Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine? Here's what the advice says.
Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine? Here's what the advice says.Read moreCynthia Greer (Custom credit)

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

Good morning.

First: The COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed to health-care workers nationwide as we speak.

As for the public, all that’s left to do is wait. While we do, what’s the timeline? Does it protect you immediately? We’ve got answers to those and a dozen other common questions in our comprehensive vaccine FAQ.

Your vaccine questions, answered in one place. Bookmark it and come back for the latest information.

Then: This week, Lauren Aguirre spoke with breaking news reporter Anna Orso about how this definitive year changed her work, and what she learned interviewing Rickia Young, a mother whose treatment by police made national news.

— Ashley Hoffman and Lauren Aguirre (@_ashleyhoffman and @laurencaguirre and

The week ahead

  1. Holiday packages are overwhelming the USPS, and employees are playing it straight with their shipping warnings.

  2. “At this stage in my life, quitting is not on the table.” Small-business owners face stark choices: pivoting, holding out, or closing if no more government aid comes. Here’s how they’re agonizing over it all.

  3. Congress may be on the brink of passing a second relief package with stimulus checks. Here’s what that could mean for you.

  4. About today’s game. One man’s take: Don’t buy the Jalen Hurts jersey yet.

  5. We’ve chosen the best holiday events in Philly.

This week’s most popular stories

Behind the story with Anna Orso

Each week, we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week, we chat with breaking news reporter Anna Orso about this career-defining year and getting Rickia Young’s story, in her own words.

Can you describe what a normal day is usually like for you as a breaking news reporter? How has it changed this year?

“Normal” and “breaking news reporter” don’t really go together, especially in this blessed year of 2020. Every time I think the news is slowing down, something else completely ridiculous happens. My job mostly consists of juggling longer-term stories and rescheduling interviews because news broke and I ran out the door to go stand in the rain to watch the FBI raid a union hall.

In truth, the vast majority of my days are spent finding and talking to normal people, everyday people, who have the most important stories to tell about how this topsy-turvy year has changed everything. Then I try to turn those words into articles. Then I quibble with my editor over small things no one else would notice. Then I say something unfunny on Twitter, but, hey, at least I tried. Then I delete racist emails. Repeat.

How do you find stories like what Rickia Young experienced in Philly? Can you describe what happened and how you reported on it?

The moment we saw the video on social media, we knew that if we could verify it was real, it was going to be a big story. It was so obviously extraordinary. My colleague Astrid Rodrigues tracked down the woman who filmed it, and I verified its authenticity, and we published our first story about what happened.

After that, we heard from someone who knew someone who knew Rickia. Then I worked sources to track down the attorneys who ultimately ended up representing her. I explained to the attorneys that although the story had gone national, The Inquirer, as the local news organization that followed this story from the beginning, was best positioned to tell Rickia’s story with empathy and understanding. I’m grateful they agreed.

What’s the biggest thing you think readers should take away from your profile on Young?

Viral photos and videos never tell the full story. In this case, that happened twice. The video of what happened that night to Rickia was only the beginning of an agonizing experience that lasted hours.

And then there was the national police union, which posted a photo of a cop holding Rickia’s toddler alongside a made-up story claiming police had saved the baby. It went viral in pro-cop circles on Facebook, but in reality, it was an image of a maskless Philadelphia police officer holding on to a barefoot toddler who’d been taken from his mother. I’ll never forget the look on Rickia’s face as she described the pain she felt seeing that image.

What’s something new that you learned through your reporting?

On the police side, we learned that their internal probe is ongoing and that now five officers are on desk duty because of this incident, not one.

But I think more compelling was what we learned about Rickia. She’s a young, single, first-time mom who is absolutely smitten with her 2-year-old son. We heard parts of her story through her lawyers and saw other parts on cell phone video, but nothing can really compare to hearing her describe what happened in her own words.

It was especially powerful to hear what traumatized her most, and I’m not sure it was the physical beating. She really couldn’t stop thinking about where her son was throughout this entire ordeal, and was deeply hurt, she said, by an officer who suggested her son would be taken to child-welfare services and would be in a “better place.” For her, it was just an unbearable added insult to injury.

What do you do in your free time for fun? Is there anything you’ve been missing because of the pandemic?

I like baking cookies, running, and tasting new beers, all of which are hobbies that work well now that time doesn’t exist. I really miss my friends and family. And I would pay an enormous fee just to safely drink citywides at Dirty Frank’s, then do karaoke at Ray’s with all my people. Soon.

What is one thing you wish more people better understood about your job?

Journalists are real human people with loved ones and lives. We lived through this messed-up year and told its stories, even when we feared for our own safety or woke up one day spontaneously crying. Sometimes we mess up. Sometimes we read the mean tweets and get unnecessarily offended. But we aren’t your enemy. We believe everyone’s experiences are valid. And many of us are doing a lot of work to ensure that we are actually community advocates — we ask the hard questions on behalf of you.

Email Anna Orso at or find her on Twitter at @Anna_Orso.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

We love this wintry scene, and the dog who doesn’t even know they are living that holiday card-worthy life. Thanks for sharing, @stormy_potato_dog.

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout-out!

What we’re…

  1. Eating: These sparkly, meaningful gingerbread cookies.

  2. Drinking: The best delivery holiday cocktail kits, including one inspired by Philadelphia conceived by Old City’s Art in the Age’s in-house mixologist.

  3. Reading: Books from local indie bookstores that need our support right now. One of them, a love story between a regular young lady and the queen’s private secretary, seems born for Netflix.

  4. Listening to: the viral smash “Lonely Christmas” by a Montco teen that’s made such a splash that the offers already rolling in.

  5. Browsing: Our staff picks in the ultimate Philly gift guide for pretty much everyone on your list.

Comment of the week

“OMG, this man is so sweet, and the best dad ever. Every daughter should have a Michael Gardner! Ava, you and your dad are great together, and so special — cherish the gift of each other always.” — nanlassen on To bond with his daughter, this Philly dad taught himself how to sew. Now, he makes all her outfits (and some for himself, too). | We The People

Your Daily Dose of | Togetherness

Kids are onto something with those piggy banks.

A tweet that went viral explains how a man who returned to his childhood home to discover he had $165.84 in a SpongeBob SquarePants piggy bank and thought that someone else could use that money. He tweeted as much, and in an instant, people were swooping in to match his savings and even doubled the money, pitching in using Venmo.

Eventually, the response was so overwhelming that he heard from people in need. In a few cases, the joint effort just may save the holidays for some people who have been struggling.

Here’s how far the outpouring went.