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Focusing on what can be gained, instead of what was lost | Morning Newsletter

And, the Phillie who suggests the COVID vaccine may have caused the worst season of his career.

Well, look at this — we made it to Friday once again. Congratulations! But before you totally unplug for the weekend, thanks for opening this email for a look at what you need to know today, courtesy of The Inquirer Morning Newsletter.

Today, we take a look at Temple’s Ambler campus, which was devastated by remnants of Hurricane Ida and will likely take decades to restore. Sad, yes. But university leaders are taking a glass-half-full approach and focusing on what can be gained through this.

And then we dig into Philly’s crazy housing market. Did you know homes are selling quicker than ever — and at astronomically high prices?

Also Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius believes the coronavirus vaccine led to a sub-.220 batting average this season. We understand that when you’re on a $28 million contract you have to blame something for your lackluster performance, but the vaccine? Needless to say, we consulted area experts who had all the science to debunk that myth.

All right, let’s get into it — and remember, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Send us a reply, and let’s start a conversation.

— Sam Ruland (@sam_ruland,

Graduate student John Harre was in class at Temple University’s Ambler campus when the internet went out, then the power, and he heard what sounded like trees banging, rain pounding, and hail hitting.

He guided students to shelter in a downstairs hallway to wait out the storm. But when the skies cleared and he walked outside, he said what he saw broke his heart.

A tornado — courtesy of Hurricane Ida — had ripped through the heart of the 187-acre Montgomery County campus. Roofs were damaged on most buildings, but even more painful, an arboretum that for decades has been an outdoor learning laboratory for more than half of its 1,000 students was ravaged.

Plants and trees, some more than 100 years old, were twisted at the base or so heavily damaged they had to be taken down. Canopies that used to provide ample shade for students, faculty, and area residents were decimated.

Officials are saying it will take decades to restore. So now what? Campus leaders and educators are trying not to focus on what was lost, but instead what can be gained.

They see their new outdoor learning space as a “disturbance” lab where students for months, years — even decades — will come to study the lasting effects of nature’s fury, including the impact of climate change.

Read more about the trauma Temple’s Ambler campus endured and what recovery will look like from reporter Susan Snyder.

The housing market is hitting one of the biggest booms in recent memory and showing no signs of letting up. It’s a market that largely requires cash in hand and the gumption to put in an offer not just in days, but in hours.

In Philly, homes on busy streets, along train tracks, and next to the roar of I-76 and I-95 — properties that would have trouble selling in years past — are selling quicker than ever. Realtor Brian Stetler, an agent based in Society Hill, lists homes for sale midweek, and by the following Monday, he’s reviewing offers with his sellers.

Even before the pandemic helped push the housing market into overdrive, sales and prices had been on an upswing in the region. Pending home sales in the Philadelphia metropolitan area in the month of August shot up from about 8,400 in 2012 to more than 15,500 in 2021, and the region’s median sale price jumped more than $100,000.

That’s good news for homeowners who have held on to their properties, but it’s a challenge for aspiring home buyers whose wages haven’t kept pace and who don’t have funds from prior home sales. Plus, the supply of homes on the market remains at a historical low. In August 2012, the Philadelphia region had more than nine months’ worth of housing supply — last month, the region’s supply stood at less than six weeks.

It’s a market unlike anything we’ve ever seen before – and yet, it’s the only market first-time buyers have ever known.

The full report, brought to you by reporter, Michaelle Bond.

Reopening resources

  1. Here’s our latest list of restaurants, large performance venues, universities, and gyms in the Philly region where you need to show proof of vaccination.

  2. Should you laminate your vaccination card? What if you lose it? Here are the dos and don’ts.

  3. Here’s what you need to know about medical exemptions.

  4. It could be time to upgrade your face gear. Which masks work best?

What you need to know today

  1. Three weeks after Fanta Bility was apparently killed by police in the crossfire of a chaotic shooting after a high school football game in Sharon Hill, local and state politicians have one question on their mind: “Why do we still not know?” They want answers and are urging the district attorney to conduct a fair, thorough and transparent investigation into her shooting.

  2. The 106-foot-tall Christopher Columbus monument at Penn’s Landing will remain in place, with coverings removed — for the foreseeable future, according to both parties involved in a lawsuit over the fate of the monument.

  3. Pennsylvania’s AG Josh Shapiro argued in court papers this week that Philly’s district attorney Larry Krasner doesn’t have the right to sue his office over a national opioid settlement that could bring up to $1 billion to the state. Krasner says the national settlement that Shapiro helped broker is a “sellout” that won’t deliver enough money to Philadelphia, and Shapiro says Krasner can’t sue the commonwealth.

  4. After months of heated school board meetings, parents are suing over Pennsylvania’s school mask mandate. At least three lawsuits have been filed challenging the order by Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration, which took effect last week and has generated protests in some school communities. One case alleges that two children “could not breathe while wearing a mask,” and that another family believes “wearing masks interferes with their religious duty to spread the word of God and forces them to participate in a satanic ritual.”

  5. Police have identified the person killed outside of Pat’s King of Steaks along 9th and Passyunk early Thursday as 28-year-old Isidro Cortes from Queens. Allegedly, an argument among fans eating cheesesteaks after Wednesday’s soccer match between the Philadelphia Union and Mexico-based side Club America escalated into violence that left Cortes dead and his father and another man injured, police say. Read the latest update from Erin McCarthy.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

It’s a big day. Hope y’all woke up on the right side of the bed. Thanks for sharing, @kslouf.

Tag your Instagram posts with #OurPhilly, and we’ll select a favorite each day to feature here and give you a shout-out.

That's interesting

💉 As employers and hospitals grapple with the Biden administration’s new mandate to vaccinate or test adults for the coronavirus in large workplaces, public-health experts say valuable lessons can be drawn from what has worked at the school level in vaccinating younger people against other diseases. So can you guess which states are best at requiring vaccines? They’re probably not the ones you’d think.

⚾ Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius blames the worst season of his career on an elbow condition he says developed after he was vaccinated for COVID-19. He claims the shots caused him to develop pseudogout — a form of arthritis. But one medical expert says that has “nothing to do with the vaccine.”

🎨 After going viral, artist Miguel Antonio Horn talks about his new Philly sculpture ‘ContraFuerte.’ The eight-piece structure of human-like figures, made of aluminum plates, floats about 20 feet above ground on a bridge that connects two buildings on Cuthbert Street.

🐒 The Philly Zoo is starting to vaccinate animals for COVID-19. A total of 113 animals at the zoo will receive the two-dose experimental vaccine produced by Zoetis, a former subsidiary of Pfizer.

🍔 Grubhub, DoorDash, and other food-delivery fees in Philly could be permanently capped under a new proposal to limit the fees, which can cost 20% to 40% of a delivery check — “almost the entirety of restaurants’ margins.”


“It is difficult to avoid viewing this agreement through the lens of the department’s performance. At a time of unprecedented gun violence, the efforts of the city’s officers have failed to produce the kind of results that Philadelphians need ... Particularly after months of marches, demands, local legislation, and promises from elected officials,” writes the Inquirer’s Editorial Board about the new Philly police contract.

  1. “The self-centered, greedy West Virginia senator is a poster child for everything wrong with U.S. politics. So what is the Joe Manchin workaround?” Inquirer columnist Will Bunch dives into the topic here.

  2. “During the height of the pandemic in December, more than 15 residents were dying per hour, a devastating toll for people across Pennsylvania and our nation.” Senator Bob Casey writes that families and workers deserve transparent data on nursing homes vaccination rates.

What we're reading

  1. Students in a southern Pennsylvania school district are battling the latest example of panic spreading over how history and race are taught in schools across the country after the Central York School Board banned a list of resources from Latinx and African American authors. Here’s the full story from CNN.

  2. In 2004, Rolling Stone published its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It’s one of the most widely read stories in their history, viewed hundreds of millions of times on the site. But a lot has changed since 2004, so they decided to give the list a total reboot. More than 250 artists, writers, and industry figures helped them choose a brand-new list full of historic favorites, world-changing anthems, and new classics. Check it out.

  3. From Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to Simone Biles, Billie Eilish and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala — the first African woman to lead the World Trade Organization. Here are some of the world’s most influential people from the 2021, according to Time.

Photo of the Day

“Quiet legs, everything is fine.” 🚲 🚲 🚲