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Who gets the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine | Morning Newsletter

Plus, the jobs programs persevering this year.

Good morning.

First: The initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout is in sight. An important federal advisory group has made its recommendations for who should be first in line to get it.

Second: Jobs programs that have proven successful with the city’s deep poverty demographic are determined to get through truly extreme circumstances.

And: Little did the staff at Philly’s Four Seasons Total Landscaping know that the news conference heard ‘round the world would make the place a sensation that endeared them to people everywhere. Meet the people who work there.

O.K. let’s get into it.

— Ashley Hoffman (@_ashleyhoffman,

A federal advisory committee is responsible for passing down this pandemic’s most influential formal instructions to states: the rough order of which groups should get the vaccine before others.

It was decided Tuesday that medical workers and residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities should go first. It’s possible that the first doses could be available as early as later this month.

Others who could get high-priority are essential workers like police and firefighters, food, education, and energy workers. Many of those workers don’t have the luxury to stay at home. Medical reporter Stacey Burling has the story with all the details.

The successes of programs like PowerCorps and Mural Arts’ Guild targeting people in deep poverty and other extreme circumstances exist in contrast to that prevalent narrative of poor Black communities that many face as a lived experience.

But this year, one group has lost six people due to devastating pandemic-related realities like arrests in connection with spring’s protests and a surge in gun violence. Keeping all of the skill-building and emotional bonding going isn’t easy, but the city is still committed to reaching this important population.

Staff writer Samantha Melamed talked to the people who run the program about how they’re persevering.

Helpful COVID-19 resources

  1. Check the current coronavirus-related restrictions in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

  2. Seeing people again after having COVID-19? Use this checklist first.

  3. Can you travel this winter? Should you? Is it safe to travel? By plane? By car?

  4. What are the first symptoms of the coronavirus and what are the differences between COVID-19, the flu, a common cold, and allergies?

  5. Face masks: Everything you need to know about buying, washing, replacing and wearing one.

  6. Track the spread of COVID-19 infections in the region.

  7. Sign up to get free coronavirus news updates in your inbox three times a week.

What you need to know today

  1. There are some signs that the coronavirus surge is slowing in Philadelphia, but that comes attached to more grim news. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania reported its highest single-day coronavirus death count since May and Governor Wolf warned that hospital intensive-care units are projected to run out of beds this month.

  2. Some of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred in the nation’s prisons. Now, Pennsylvania prisons are contending with the resurgence of the virus ravaging the state’s prison system.

  3. President Donald Trump’s allies in Pennsylvania are still trying to push their unsupported claims of election fraud and overturn the state’s results. This is happening even as U.S. Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department had not uncovered any evidence of widespread voter fraud that would have changed the outcome of the election.

  4. A federal appeals court reinstated the child-endangerment conviction of former Pennsylvania State University president Graham B. Spanier in relation to how he handled the 2001 sexual abuse case against Jerry Sandusky. With his conviction — and sentence — now restored, it was not immediately clear Tuesday when Spanier, 72, might have to begin to serve the jail term he was originally sentenced to.

  5. And the international spectacle of a news conference at Philly’s Four Seasons Total Landscaping made a tourist destination out of the small company. We spoke to the workers there to get the whole, interesting story about that booking. It’s not what many theorized.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

Gotta love when a family member can hold a pose in front of the tree. Thanks for sharing @milliethebluecorgi.

Share Your Photos: 2020 was a year unlike any other — and we want to see what it looked like through your lens. Tag your Instagram photos with #OurPhilly by Friday, Dec. 4 for a chance to be a part of our Year in Pictures. Our photographers will pick their favorites to feature in a community gallery on And as always, 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!

That’s interesting

  1. 👔 We talked to some of the millions of Pennsylvanians about how they’re coping with unemployment. And this is what an expert says is important for anyone who suffers the loss of a job to remember.

  2. 📷 This Philadelphia fashion photographer shoots bracingly moving portraits that are as vulnerable as they are exquisite. Behold the power of a woman in a ballgown owning her scars from third-degree burns.

  3. 🗺️ Let’s meet the crew behind Half Brothers, a hopeful new movie that urges audiences to see the migration experience from a different perspective. (The brother relationship is meant to work as a metaphor for the U.S. and Mexico.)

  4. 🎂 An absolute legend of a Cobbs Creek lady who turned 100 with a massive birthday drive-by parade bash is “looking forward to 200.”

  5. 🌳 We caught up with the Four Seasons Total Landscaping crew about their new normal. People have sent cheesesteaks, Domino’s pizza gift cards, beard oil, fruit gift baskets, and more to their front door.

  6. 🍕 Leave it to a man with the last name Pizza to sling pies at a new pizza shop. He was always wired to do this.

  7. 🏋️ A personal trainer hand-picks her favorite workout gifts for the fitness pals in your life.


“We can build more ventilators, erect tents, and create extra spaces to treat people in hospitals to face a surge. We cannot do the same for the individuals caring for our families and friends.” — Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Anish K. Agarwal, writes that the Philly-famous grit of health-care workers is being tested like never before and could very well run out, doing long-term mental health damage.

  1. Cass Breslin Egan, co-chair of the Hallahan Board of Directors, writes that closing the country’s first-ever all-girls Catholic school is a travesty for educational opportunities.

  2. There’s a vacancy to fill following Lee Huang’s resignation from the Philadelphia School Board and how members get a seat at that table is up for discussion. We tapped an educator and a parent to debate. Election or appointment? Do people deserve a say in who oversees school decisions or is the mayor who should be held accountable for school success.

What we’re reading

  1. The New York Times Style magazine got in the kitchen with Patti LaBelle, “the doyenne of Philadelphia soul,” to see what’s cooking and celebrate her considerable staying power.

  2. How could the COVID-19 vaccine be distributed everywhere in the world? The Week seeks to offer insight into the logistics.

  3. Local immigrants rights advocacy groups say charges against a Delco man are unjustified with #JustCantWait campaign, WHYY reports.

Your Daily Dose of | Music

How do you write a score that can tell the breathless story of the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl championship season?

The 30-year-old who got the composer gig for the documentary Maybe Next Year started with his love of the team. To capture the city’s undying passion, he wrote the harmonica-heavy “Green City” for the film’s drive-by tour’s fans’ homes. (It stays with you.)

The music had to dip and swell with every dramatic turn of the season. His instrumentals are both orchestral and at times, acoustic.

“The Eagles really are the religion of Philadelphia,” he tells us. We talked to him about soundtracking the highest point for the highest order of worship.