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Meet Philly’s People of the Year | Morning Newsletter

And a mental health backlog

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

If you were looking for a carbon copy of yesterday’s weather, today should do the trick, as we’ll just peek into the 50s — again under cloudy skies.

Today our columnist Helen Ubiñas has her own People of the Year — and it’s not like the usual lists.

Also, Philly’s pandemic-driven mental health backlog is now almost two years running.

— Kerith Gabriel (@sprtswtr,

This is anything but the who’s who of Philly. Our columnist Helen Ubiñas revisited all the stories she captured this year and the personalities behind them to bring you this unique list of Philly’s People of the Year.

  1. The cellist who gave a kid who robbed her a ride home.

  2. The moms who planned a Poconos vacation for victims of gun violence.

  3. And the woman who started the Greater Philadelphia Diaper Bank out of her garage.

Here’s hoping you like this one as much as I did, since I’m always a fan of focusing on Philly’s hidden heroes.

What you should know today

  1. Philly is averaging record-high coronavirus cases, but the city hopes this wave will have fewer hospitalizations.

  2. A former Philly prison guard accused of smuggling phones and drugs was charged with swindling economic relief money.

  3. The fight over congressional redistricting in Pennsylvania is heating up.

  4. What you need to know now that the CDC has updated its COVID-19 isolation guidelines.

  5. That teacher who went viral for hitting a half-court shot during recess? She’s from around here.

  6. It’s only going to get colder, so we’ve got places you can donate gently used coats, hats, gloves, and more for those less fortunate.

  7. An epidemiologist contracted COVID-19. We have her firsthand account of what she learned about the virus.

  8. Local Coronavirus Numbers: Here’s your daily look at the latest COVID-19 data.

It’s a bandwidth problem.

As more and more people suffer from mental health issues in Philadelphia — caused by the pandemic, record gun violence, and more — the number of providers with qualified staffers has dwindled.

This has created a backlog of new and current patients waiting to be seen and treated.

“It tugs at my heartstrings because I know how hard it is to find a good therapist,” says Shelley Z. Goodman, a clinical psychologist in Elkins Park. Goodman says she’s had to turn away six to eight new patients daily.

And it’s not just adults. Places like the Pediatric Anxiety Treatment Center, a Penn-run clinic in Society Hill, have seen close to a 400% increase in referrals this year alone.

Our reporter Marina Affo has more on what the city and others are doing to get people the help they’ve been desperately waiting for.

🧠 Philly Trivia Time 🧠

If you’re a fan of The Grill at Smucker’s inside Reading Terminal Market, you may have heard that the restaurant, which has been a staple of the food court for over a decade, is shutting down. Today’s question: Do you know why it’s closing up shop? Our reporter Michael Klein has the answer, along with what the family plans to do next.

What we’re…

  1. Reading: This story on Mehmet Oz, the celebrity doctor running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, who had some choice words for a reporter — all of which she overheard. 🤦‍♀️

  2. Eyeballing: Some of our favorite Inquirer guides of the year, and the suggestions you made for us to try out. 👀

  3. Laughing at: What our reporter Ellie Rushing overheard getting off a flight at Philadelphia International Airport. 😂

Photo of the day

Also, today is the last day to submit your most memorable moment of 2021 for an opportunity to have it shared in tomorrow’s newsletter. If you do, send your name and neighborhood to Thanks to you all who took the time to send in a submission this week.

Until tomorrow, y’all…✌️