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The Philly zip codes with greater concerns than COVID-19 | Morning Newsletter

And, we have the soundtrack to tonight’s Eagles-Cowboys match-up on Monday Night Football

Good morning, Inquirer readers. Appreciate your taking time out on a Monday to check in with us.

First, we’ll dive into an eye-opening data story noting that in the eight Philadelphia zip codes with the highest rate of gun violence, more people have been shot since the start of the pandemic than have died from COVID-19. In the rest of the city, the opposite is true.

Next, the Philadelphia School District is dealing with a day when kids at an elementary school in Southwest Philadelphia went hungry last week. Add this to bus driver shortages, technology issues, and disgruntled nurses and teachers who say they are already burned out just weeks into the school year.

And, in preparation for tonight’s Week 3 clash between the Eagles and despised rival Dallas Cowboys, we’re getting you pumped up ... well, actually, Birds quarterback Jalen Hurts is, with his training camp track library.

There are some good tunes on there, so stay tuned for that one.

— Kerith Gabriel (@sprtswtr,

In some Philly zip codes, low vaccination rates aren’t necessarily a result of hesitation or denial. And if you ask most, they believe the vaccine works — it’s just not the biggest fear factor in their lives. In addition to poverty, food insecurity, and inadequate housing, now gun violence has become a greater perceived risk in these neighborhoods than testing positive for COVID-19.

In the eight zip codes where the most people have been shot since the start of the pandemic, people of all ages who live there are only twice as likely to die from COVID-19. In the rest of the city outside of these violence-stricken neighborhoods? People are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than from being shot.

Reporters Jason Laughlin and Jonathan Lai present the data packaged in this remarkable article looking at the real risk analysis that finds vaccination concerns lower on the list.

Last Thursday, kids who usually receive breakfast and lunch at Mitchell Elementary School had to do without. And some staff suggested that they aren’t terribly surprised, considering that the lack of staffing has put more than just breakfast and lunch on hold.

In fact, according to this story from education reporter Kristen Graham, the principal had to fund lunch out of her own pocket, ordering pizzas while staff chipped in for plates and juice. They also used emergency rations on hand, feeding kids crackers, dried cranberries, and juice. But there wasn’t enough.

Many say this is just the latest issue that stems from the larger problem of a lack of resources across city schools, particularly in Black and brown neighborhoods.

“This isn’t about Thursday,” said Shaw MacQueen, who teaches seventh and eighth grades at Mitchell. “This isn’t about Mitchell. This is about the district having schools — neighborhood schools, majority Black and brown schools — that are continually underfunded over years, and then they put the blame on teachers.”

This story is pretty cool, and I’ve been saving it for this game. Josh Tolentino, the newest addition to the team of Eagles beat writers at The Inquirer, revealed that he captured the titles of close to 70 tracks the Birds played during training camp. These songs range from electronic dance music to hip-hop, with some Philly-themed hits, such as “Eye of the Tiger,” sprinkled throughout.

Even more remarkable is that in a one-on-one with Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, Hurts revealed that the playlist was his and he was given carte blanche to act as the de facto DJ in preparation for the season. So whether you think it’s cool that Hurts doubles as QB1 and DJ1 for the Birds — or that Tolentino essentially Shazam’d nearly 70 tracks for your listening pleasure — we have the full story complete with a Spotify teaser playlist we’re calling Jalen’s Jams Vol. 1 right here.

  1. Ahead of Monday night’s game, one ESPN analyst in particular is impressed with Hurts’ performance.

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. Here’s where to get a COVID-19 test in the Philadelphia region.

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

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

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

What you need to know today

  1. The city announced it has surpassed 400 homicides in 2021, moving it closer to the total of 499 from last year. This marks the first time since 1996 that Philadelphia had more than 400 homicides in back-to-back years.

  2. After a 6-0 loss to the listless Pirates over the weekend, the Phillies, who played their last home game of the season, have just six more games remaining and likely will have to sweep Atlanta, who are ahead of them by two games in the NL East, to have any real chance of making the postseason.

  3. Pa. progressive Democrats and moderates are at a bit of a disagreement when it comes to a pair of bipartisan infrastructure and social spending bills, the latter to the tune of $3.5 trillion. Both bills are up for a House vote today.

  4. Afghan refugees are getting hit with some Brotherly Love as residents from around the region have stepped up in support, donating money and supplies. In fact, the Nationalities Service Center said that in just six weeks, donations have topped $539,000 and they’ve actually had to stop accepting applications for volunteers after the list surpassed 1,000 names. Good lookin’ out, Philly. 👊

  5. According to recent numbers, only a third of Philadelphia city employees and just half of the health workers within the commonwealth have reported being vaccinated. Now there is a caveat: When it comes to the city, officials say the number of its vaccinated workers is “far higher,” citing the difficulty that some workers are having uploading their vax cards. For our sake, here’s hoping the lag truly is just a digital divide.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

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

That’s interesting

👩🏼‍⚕️ Three Penn medical students started a podcast conveying the real and unforeseen struggles for med students who are either first-generation or don’t come from money.

🥊 A Philly boxer who broke his neck and was told he’d never walk again is not only walking, but also is back in the ring, training up-and-coming fighters.

🏀 Adam Sandler, who’s in town shooting his hoops movie, Hustle, has been showing love to the Philly restaurant scene, one still clawing back after being hard hit by the pandemic shutdown.

🏖️ You’d think going to the beach would be paradise, right? Me, too. Apparently, people spent much of their summer down the Shore complaining about all kinds of things.

🎨 Chinatown got a pop of color Sunday as people from around the region gathered to give a mural promoting a safe place to play for kids in the community an expansion and a fresh coat of paint.


“Between his insubordination, his condescension, and his utter lack of self-awareness, Simmons has made himself the least likable sort of person. Sweaty, shirtless vanity posts on Instagram are one thing. They are explicable, and almost expected, from a peer group convinced that social media is the only valid barometer of self-worth. But bailing on teammates? I mean, that’s the sort of thing Carson Wentz would do,” this from Inquirer columnist Marcus Hayes on Ben Simmons, who will be in the “not pictured” category when the Sixers reconvene for the preseason today.

  1. U.S. Rep. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania says it was the trauma of her partner’s suicide that has made mental health reform one of her main missions on the Hill.

  2. If you’re still looking at gun violence as a crime issue you’ve got it all wrong, writes Inquirer national columnist Will Bunch.

What we’re reading

  1. We’d love to know your thoughts on this Philly Mag story in which an NYC doc and his sister, who’s a Penn grad, suggest you can still smoke cigarettes and lead a healthy lifestyle. Listen, their reasoning actually is not as much of an oxymoron as you might think, but come on, how is the notion to just quit entirely not the obvious choice.

  2. And it looks as if the Philadelphia Parking Authority is going to create a special unit on the lookout for people who obstruct bike lanes, according to PlanPhilly. As an avid cyclist around the city myself, I find this to be one of my biggest pet peeves. Well, that and people who don’t signal and then whip a right turn. Yep, not a fan.

Photo of the Day

Here’s hoping that, like these pigeons, your week takes off. ✌️