Hello, dedicated readers of The Inquirer Morning Newsletter.

First: Experts warn that as Pennsylvania reopens, the state’s effort to vaccinate communities of color is still lacking.

Then: This is what pregnant workers endured during the pandemic, in their own words.

And: After scoring a victory at the ballot box, newly emboldened Republicans in the Pennsylvania legislature are moving to end parts of Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus disaster declaration.

Also: Publisher and CEO Elizabeth H. Hughes reflects on the last year and what’s ahead for The Inquirer, so that you can hold us to account.

— Ashley Hoffman (@_ashleyhoffman, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

Racial divide with vaccines remains stark in Pa.

Pennsylvania has yet to vaccinate Black and Latino communities at the same rate as white residents and hasn’t made sufficient efforts to close the gaps since the pandemic first took hold. Organizers with community groups doing the groundwork say there are unmistakable barriers like transportation, language, and health-care access in general.

What’s more, experts caution that as things become unrestricted across the state, communities of color will still be a higher risk of exposure and vulnerability.

”We’ll have a population with much lower vaccination rates and much higher exposures, so that’s going to be a very worrisome picture,” said Dr. Usama Bilal, an assistant professor in epidemiology and biostatistics at Drexel University. In response to that inevitability, Bilal adds that the push to build trust in undeserved communities has to go beyond people who aren’t yet vaccinated.

Read on for reporter Jamie Martines’ story on the persistent racial gap.

Many pregnant workers and new mothers were left out of COVID-19 aid

When the federal government created its pandemic unemployment assistance program, it stipulated that COVID-19 must have been the reason the aid recipients lost their roles. That wasn’t any help for any of the pregnant people who lost work before March 2020.

In fact, it deprived pregnant workers of the financial assistance supplied to others who lost their jobs. If pregnant workers filed for unemployment prior to the pandemic and didn’t get it, they were forced to rely on a now-backlogged state system.

As people waited for assistance that rarely came, the economy magnified these losses, forcing some new mothers and their babies into poverty. “It’s like do I sacrifice us being behind on bills, or do I sacrifice the both of our health?” mother Teneema Tibbs said.

Read on for reporter Ellie Silverman’s story on how pregnant workers and new mothers struggled in the pandemic.

Helpful Resources COVID-19

What you need to know today

  • Empowered by voters, Republicans are moving in an effort to prevent Wolf’s ability to close businesses or impose occupancy limits because of COVID-19.

  • Moderna said Tuesday its COVID-19 vaccine strongly protects kids as young as 12, a step that could put the shot on track to become the second option for that age group in the U.S.

  • Footage recently uncovered online has complicated the account that State Sen. Doug Mastriano gave of his proximity to the Capitol riot.

  • Honest conversations about mental health in church? It’s happening in New Jersey as Black community members are navigating the fallout of COVID-19.

  • Pa. released the numbers of expired, spoiled, and wasted vaccine doses after citing a privacy law.

  • An ex-administrator at Temple University’s business school has agreed to testify in the prosecution of the former dean, who faces federal charges tied to an alleged scheme to inflate the school’s position in national rankings.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

Looks like blue skies forever on the Schuylkill from Strawberry Mansion Bridge.

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

🎢 Strap in for a roller-coaster weather ride this Memorial Day weekend.

🐜 It’s tick-check time. These are the most common ticks in the Philly region, and how you can keep yourself safe from them.

Opinions

“A lot remains to be done — and there are likely challenges ahead that we can’t anticipate. But if reckoning requires a commitment to change and a clear path to reach it, then I hope you agree that our progress in the last year is tangible proof of both,” Elizabeth H. Hughes, publisher and chief executive officer of The Inquirer, writes in her reflection of our work over the last year.

  • “George Floyd’s family will stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, and with the strength of all their voices, they’ll call out for justice. President Joe Biden will join them in that call. And when the call is answered — when the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is passed — that’s when we’ll finally be whole. That’s when we’ll finally find justice. That’s when the healing begins,” commentator Solomon Jones writes, marking the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder.

  • “Not everything about Yang’s second act is adding up,” columnist Will Bunch writes about a moneyed man from Philly backing Andrew Yang for NYC’s mayor.

  • “So to prevent air piracy from becoming a new tool of dictators, NATO members must make Lukashenko pay a high enough price. And one that will force Putin to take notice,” columnist Trudy Rubin writes, saying the response to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s crime must be strong to capture the Russian president’s attention.

What we’re reading

Your Daily Dose of | Promise

This young baseball player is one to watch. He’s even been called the greatest athlete in Malvern Prep history, and he’s raking in recruitment offers from high places. Now he’s about to step up to the plate to make some delightful, but very hard, decisions, Bob Brookover writes.