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Chesco to notify thousands about ‘questionable’ COVID-19 test results | Morning Newsletter

And, oral histories of how the pandemic interrupted life as we knew it.

In the six months since Gov. Tom Wolf announced statewide shutdowns of nonessential businesses, everyone has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in one way or another. My colleagues spoke to six individuals from different walks of life to find out, in their own words, how their lives have been interrupted. You can read those stories here and learn more about the project below.

— Josh Rosenblat (@joshrosenblat,

Six months ago, Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf ordered all nonessential businesses to close as the coronavirus spread. My colleagues talked to six people to hear their stories of how the first half-year of the pandemic has interrupted their lives. From a bartender and a jazz singer to a high school ballet dancer and CEO, these are their stories in their own words.

Employees at Rivers Casino Philadelphia had to make adjustments when the casino reopened its doors this summer. Salaried workers took 15% pay cuts. Everyone who thought they might have COVID-19 had to alert the HR department. But, they were explicitly told not to tell their immediate supervisors why they wouldn’t come in.

Those who returned to the Fishtown casino say that the mandated secrecy is symbolic of how management has run Rivers this summer. Current and recently resigned workers spoke to my colleague Vinny Vella about their fears of infection while relying on rumors for their safety and that of their families.

At first, Chester County officials denied problems with their $13 million coronavirus antibody testing program. But on Tuesday, they acknowledged that the tests produced “potentially inaccurate” results that the county kept secret from the public — and from those who took the tests.

The county said this week that it will reach out to those who received “questionable test results” and will put a consultant in charge of reviewing the purchase of the antibody tests from a local biotech startup.

The change follows my colleagues Marie McCullough and William Bender’s report that showed Chester County spent $13 million in federal pandemic aid on a no-bid contract with the Malvern-based firm at the suggestion of a local state senator.

What you need to know today

  1. VP candidate Kamala Harris will be in Philly today.

  2. Two Philly doctors broke down the science behind some COVID-19 safety precautions, including keeping six feet of social distance, 14-day quarantines, and hand-washing.

  3. The largest wildfire raging in the western United States has scorched an area equivalent to that between Reading and Turnersville. In this region, my colleague Frank Kummer reports that the New Jersey Pinelands is the most likely tinderbox, with the chief of the state’s Forest Fire Service acknowledging that the potential exists for “large catastrophic fires."

  4. Researchers at Pitt studied Gov. Wolf’s coronavirus-related restrictions. Nearly 8,000 COVID-19 deaths have been confirmed so far in Pennsylvania. And if there were fewer restrictions, that figure likely would have been several times higher, they said.

  5. Philadelphia will shut down streets near the Linc on Sunday to prevent people from tailgating at the stadium complex for the Eagles' home opener.

  6. Philadelphia’s poverty rate fell and its median household income increased in 2019, according to a new survey that indicated the city and its surrounding region were moving mostly in the right direction until the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

This shot is both eerie and beautiful. Thanks for sharing, @shambo.

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. 🌡️Some restaurants are hoping you are ready to bundle up as the weather cools down. Would you dine outside in the cold?

  2. 🏈It looks like Penn State will take the field this fall after the Big Ten announced its football season would begin in late October. Columnist Mike Jensen writes about the competing factors that might have led to the decision: public pressure and evidence.

  3. ☀️For some Philly homeowners and buyers, roof decks have become a must-have.

  4. 🚜In Salem County, N.J., farming has linked Black and Jewish families with deep local roots.

  5. 📦Amazon is leasing a newly built warehouse in Northeast Philly.

  6. 🍲Is it really soup season? Philly chefs and authors shared some easy recipes with my colleague Cassie Owens.


“Some might call it procrastination, or denial. I call it a necessary respite from all the bad news and tweets and posts about how much we’ve lost, a moment to find a little joy in someone else’s win, big or small.” — writes columnist Helen Ubiñas about “joyscrolling.”

  1. Should college students get tuition refunds for virtual learning? Kaliyah Dorsey, a junior at Penn, and Jonathan Zimmerman, a history and education teacher there, debate in this week’s Pro/Con.

  2. Terrie Griffin and Janeth Hendershot, co-presidents of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, write about why Pennsylvanians deserve a legislature that’s more responsive.

What we’re reading

  1. The trash delays have brought booming business to Philly exterminators, WHYY reports.

  2. An Esquire essay examines a parent’s perspective on Zoom school.

  3. ESPN has a story about a highly touted high school football player from California whose parents legally separated in order for him to be eligible to move to a Georgia high school and play football. High school football is delayed in California until at least December.

Your Daily Dose of | ‘Nothing but watermelons’

Carter Watermelon, a stand in Southwest Philly, has been a family business for over 70 years. My colleague Craig LaBan talked to the Carters about picking the best watermelons (hint: “It’s all about the vibrations”), their generations of great fruit, and their civil rights legacy.