Today’s forecast for rain and subfreezing temperatures could mean dangerously icy roads for the Philly region as it braces for some of the coldest temperatures since 2019. With COVID-19 sending health-care workers home, overwhelmed Pennsylvania hospitals now face a compounding crisis.

Meanwhile, Kerith’s first interview of the year is pure fun. He talked toons with who else? Our resident cartoonist, Rob Tornoe.

❓ And remember to find our pop quiz at the bottom every Sunday.

— Ashley Hoffman (@_ashleyhoffman,

The strain of the omicron surge on hospitals

As the omicron surge worsens, health-care workers are increasingly contracting the virus — adding a new challenge for already strained hospitals.

“Every day feels like a crisis,” says Timothy Friel, chair of the department of medicine at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

🚩 The virus-related absences mean some hospitals are having to move workers to different jobs or ask employees to pick up extra work.

🚩 The staffing strain also contributes to longer waits and backlogs.

🚩 No hospital is yet at a point where administrators say they’re unable to provide acute care, but fatigue and burnout are mounting.

Reporters Erin McCarthy and Justine McDaniel have more on the latest unprecedented numbers.

What you should know today

How to make an authentically Philly cartoon

As our resident cartoonist, Rob Tornoe gets to take a uniquely creative perspective to journalism. It’s not Rob’s only job at The Inquirer — he’s also a reporter on our Now Desk — but it’s our favorite, as he provides timely levity to serious news.

We caught up with Rob to talk toons and how there’s no shortage of story lines.

What do you find fun about doing toons?

The best part is the reaction a single cartoon can have. No matter how many people read my stories, nothing is quite as fulfilling as when a reader sends me a picture of one of my cartoons on their fridge or on their desk at work. There’s a power cartoons can have on people that’s hard to describe.

How do you decide what you’re going to illustrate?

I tend to stick to cartoons about sports and local issues, like Amazon boxes piling up on the sidewalk or Eagles fans getting worked up over the dumbest things. My process is pretty simple — procrastinate until I’m just about out of time and draw the best idea I think my editors will actually approve.

What story line has been the most cartoon-worthy?

The Eagles’ roller-coaster ride of a season. First they’re good, then they’re terrible, and now they’re knocking on the door to the playoffs. Nick Sirianni started off as a metaphor-loving joke. Now he’s suddenly a highly skilled motivator. It goes on and on.

How much of making sure your cartoons are authentically Philly goes into the creative process?

Whether it’s the backgrounds or the clothes the characters wear, I try to make my cartoons as authentic as I possibly can. I also think it’s important to capture the diversity of the city in my work, and to sneak in as many Wawa references as I can.

What are you wishing for in 2022?

To be able to stop drawing COVID-19 cartoons.


Pop quiz: Snow tracking

So now snow has happened this year. And as you are ALSO no doubt aware, Philly winters get wild. Kerith recently recommended you read the story tracking 130 years of our pure seasonal chaos.

🌡 Today’s Question: Do you remember the hottest it ever got in January here? It’s actually snowing all over this interactive story with the answer, which is a total eclipse of the charts.

What We’re ...

Listening to: And my arms need someone, someone to enfold ... to keep me warm when Mondays and Tuesdays grow cold. Love for all my life, to have and to hold, oh and I want a Sunday kind of love. 🎶