Good morning.

First: Gun violence in Philadelphia has spiked to heights not seen in a generation, and our latest investigation shows how the city’s Police Department has failed to meet this menace.

Then: Bucks County has gone its own way when it comes to in-person schools and COVID-19 case numbers. People stopped getting the latest numbers a full month ago. Why? The answer may lead to one director who has stood out for his approach to the pandemic.

And: Pennsylvania officials have been weighing a new ban on indoor dining and the mandatory closures of gyms and casinos, we learned. A decision on this is likely to come within days.

— Ashley Hoffman (@_ashleyhoffman,

Thousands of Shootings, Infrequent Arrests

We analyzed every shooting in Philadelphia since 2015 to get to the heart of a chronic system slowly collapsing. In our interviews, victims, family, police, and community advocates described how law enforcement is just not performing its job at the most fundamental level: securing justice when people get shot.

As many as 8,500 people have been shot in Philadelphia since 2015. Shooters have been charged and convicted just 9% of the time. For this project, police, advocates, and families described a criminal community more emboldened than ever before. Attempts to refocus efforts toward this problem don’t seem to have offered much hope. Some have seen aspiring killers show they just don’t fear repercussions for shooting someone. And a culture of silence makes investigating difficult.

This year’s frenetic pace of gun violence means the number of people getting away with committing it is much larger than years past — and it’s only growing. Our investigation into this issue revealed some startling extremes. Keep reading for those.

From COVID-19 data to in-person school, Bucks County’s Health Department goes its own way

If you live in Pennsylvania, chances are you can easily get all the latest numbers and info on the coronavirus in your community. Not Bucks County, though.

The Health Department stopped supplying those figures a full month ago, citing the surge in cases. The county is far from the only place to recognize that contact tracing can be a game of Whac-A-Mole. But when it comes to playing it safe, Bucks County’s approach to public safety under the Health Department’s controversial director, David Damsker, stands out.

Over the course of the pandemic, he’s sometimes been at odds with experts. While six feet apart is the order of the day, he’s recommended three, and he’s doubled down on keeping schools open when others have advised virtual instruction.

Here’s how he’s been guiding the county and drawing his fair share of detractors in the process.

Helpful COVID-19 resources

What you need to know today

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

Not only did it snow, we have the receipts. Props to @walking_philly for snapping yesterday’s snow shower in action.

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


“The cracks that gun violence victims usually fall through have been made wider this year by a pandemic that disproportionately kills Blacks and Latinos, despite a national reckoning on racial justice that has put the spotlight on inequality in America. It’s hard not to wonder the difference that reckoning might have made had it come earlier for those who lost their lives under the same systemic racism.” — columnist Helen Ubiñas writes that if you’ve lost someone to the epidemic of gun violence, she’s accepting reader submissions of remembrances or photographs of loved ones for our package that will honor them.

What we’re reading

Your Daily Dose of | Sparkle

No one needs magic more than we do right now.

And checking out the festive holiday lights near you can be something to do safely. Tom Gralish has captured 800 Kimball Street, which underwent a transformation as residents started amusing passerby along their block with elaborate over-the-top inflatable characters. Expect some kitschy pieces in the mix. Look! There’s a gigantic Rudolph, Frosty, and the Grinch. Usual suspects. But here! We also spotted a unicorn, and Hello Kitty. Get ready to be dazzled.

What’s your favorite spectacular spot to see people go all out with holiday decorations this time of year?