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Pa. health-care workers are getting their COVID-19 vaccines | Morning Newsletter

And, Biden (officially) got his Electoral College votes.

Good morning, Philly. These are some of the stories you should know about on this pre-snowpocalypse morning.

First: The vaccine is here. Health-care workers in Pennsylvania got the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine yesterday.

Then: We could get up to 10 inches of snow starting Wednesday. Yeah, you read that right.

And: President-elect Joe Biden (officially) got the 270 Electoral College votes needed to formalize his presidential victory.

— Josh Rosenblat (@joshrosenblat,

“Here we go.” Those were the words spoken by University of Pittsburgh Medical Center nurse Tami Minnier as she injected the state’s first vaccine dose yesterday into nurse-practitioner Charmaine Pykosh. The vaccinations of frontline health workers prompted Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to call yesterday “a new chapter in this fight.”

Pennsylvania is set to receive 97,500 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine this week, with Philadelphia getting 13,650 doses. Health-care workers in the city are set to get their first shots in the coming days.

Chris Rahn operates without a corporate office, business phone number, or company website. Even so, he’s made himself into a Philadelphia property mogul through a long list of deals throughout the city. They’ve “earned him a quiet reputation as a wizard of real estate — and, more recently, a growing stack of lawsuits with his name on them,” my colleague Jacob Adelman writes.

Rahn and his business partner and wife Christine Pasieka have acquired some 80 properties, mostly in North and West Philadelphia, since 2005 for at least $57.2 million, according to public records. There are actually more deals, Rahn told Adelman, because some are done using trusts instead of their names.

Helpful COVID-19 Resources

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

  2. Here are the updated coronavirus case numbers as COVID-19 continues to spread across the region.

  3. Are you seeing people again after having COVID-19? Read our checklist first.

  4. Is it safe to travel this winter? If you are, here’s a full breakdown on how to stay safer away from home wherever you stay and however you get there.

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

  6. Everything you need to know about buying, washing, replacing, and wearing face masks.

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

What you need to know today

  1. Pennsylvania’s electors met in Harrisburg yesterday to formally cast 20 Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Electors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia also met yesterday to cast their votes, giving Biden the official votes to formalize his presidential victory.

  2. Bucks County is the most politically competitive Philly suburb. Just look at how many “ticket-splitting” voters there were this year. And, on the western side of the state, Pittsburgh’s wealthy ‘burbs went for Biden. But will Democrats be able to count on them in the future?

  3. Roseann and Richard DeRosa pushed for a bill in the Pennsylvania legislature that aimed to have stricter penalties for chronic drunk drivers. It was named after their daughter Deana, who was killed in February 2019 by a driver who had six DUIs in nine years. Deana’s Law, as it was known, was changed time and again by lawmakers pushing their own agendas and by lobbyists whose support came and went, reports my colleague Vinny Vella.

  4. Jobless workers in Pennsylvania have been waiting for months to get their Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments without any explanation (which is a violation of federal law, according to a litigation director for Community Legal Services).

  5. Dozens of gyms and restaurants across Pennsylvania (including some in the Philadelphia area) are still open for indoor service, defying Gov. Tom Wolf’s closure orders. Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine is pleading with those business owners to comply with the orders.

  6. The Philadelphia police have identified the man who officers shot and wounded in Feltonville last week.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

Thanks for sharing this shot, @quenchmethods. Read more about what’s headed our way tomorrow here.

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 could get up to 10 inches of snow starting tomorrow. It’s the region’s first “winter storm watch” since March 2019.

  2. 🦅 After leading the Birds to a win over the Saints, Jalen Hurts has earned a second starting nod when the Eagles take on the Cardinals this week. But he might have to adjust how he plays, my colleague Les Bowen writes.

  3. 🍽️ There’s a new Philadelphia tax break for its struggling restaurants. Turns out it won’t do much.

  4. 💻 In a protest against too much screen time, some students at a Philadelphia high school refused to log on for class yesterday.

  5. ♨️ Your nose is great at filtering out viruses and other foreign particles. But when the weather gets dry, keeping your nasal passages moist takes some work. So, can a humidifier help ward off COVID-19?

  6. 🌐 Philadelphia is expanding free internet access to cover some families who may be having trouble affording it.


“Addressing police legitimacy — building trust between police and the communities they serve — without a long-term commitment will not yield actual progress, and we will always be stuck applying a bandage to an ever-growing wound.” — writes Lauren Footman, the director of outreach and equity for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, about Philly police’s community-building strategy.

  1. Stop shaming exhausted parents when their children miss class, writes Kenneth Bourne II, a social worker at an all-boys charter school in Philadelphia.

  2. Are you an adult who’s parenting your parents during the COVID-19 pandemic? Psychotherapist and psychoanalyst Elain P. Zickler writes about why you should “stop enforcing the equivalent of house arrest” on your parents.

What we’re reading

  1. A 15-year-old Montco girl’s Christmas song just surpassed 100,000 views on YouTube. Philadelphia magazine spoke to singer-songwriter WALLIS.

  2. WHYY has a story focusing on how Black Philadelphians are approaching vaccine distrust.

  3. I’m going to use this spot to share another newsletter. Don Van Naatta Jr. and Jacob Feldman’s Sunday Long Read is an amazing weekly resource for longform journalism. Each week you’ll find selections that you can dive into that expose you to something new. This is their Best Of 2020 edition.

Your Daily Dose of | Donations

If you have scarves, hats, blankets, gloves, and/or socks you might be able to donate to people experiencing homelessness, my colleague Grace Dickinson compiled a list of more than a handful of shelters and organizations that are taking cold-weather donations.