ISSUE 85 | November 18, 2020
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From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News
Wilkes-Barre forming committee to seek COVID-19 funding for residents 
The City of Wilkes-Barre is establishing a Citizens’ COVID-19 Financial Assistance Committee, with the goal of helping senior citizens and families that have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

The committee will connect community members with support programs and financial assistance opportunities offered by government and nonprofit agencies.

COVID-19 outbreak threatens hundreds at PA prison for medically vulnerable
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania’s prisons increased by 97 percent within the last month (growing to 841).

Approximately one third of these new cases appeared at a facility for medically vulnerable inmates – even after the facility had taken a number of safety precautions.

State legislators are discussing the temporarily release vulnerable inmates to prevent further spread.

Pennsylvania has the highest incarceration rate in the region, and its inmate population is older than that of most states.

Hundreds of thousands of people face utility shutoffs as pandemic surges
Pennsylvania’s statewide moratorium on utility shutoffs recently expired, leaving many households with large past-due utility bills.

In June, about 800,000 people in the Philadelphia area were facing utility shut-off, and that number may be larger today, considering high unemployment rates.

Fortunately, lower-income households may be eligible for assistance.

From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News
COVID-19 hospitalizations are surging. Where are hospitals reaching capacity?
In the U.S., hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have nearly doubled since the end of September.

In some regions, the rates of new patients have exceeded hospital capacities.

Experts have commented that this new surge is likely to strain the nation’s health systems, and that there may be more epicenters than there were earlier in the year.

A small city comeback, interrupted
Before the pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn, Troy, New York demonstrated how small cities can recover from periods of post-industrial decline.

Similar to efforts in other cities, revitalization in Troy largely focused on development of a thriving downtown area.

Some experts are suggesting that such a strategy may not be sustainable during a pandemic, however.

They are recommending other approaches instead, such as rethinking land use and expanding access to affordable housing, food, and jobs. 

Why poorer countries aren’t likely to get the Pfizer vaccine any time soon
According to pharmaceutical company Pfizer, preliminary analysis suggests that its experimental vaccine effectively prevents COVID-19 symptoms.

Americans may begin to receive vaccines in the next few months, but only a limited supply will be immediately available to other countries.

Low- and middle-income countries may not receive the vaccine until the end of next year – partly because it must be stored and transported in “extraordinarily low temperatures.”

Research Spotlight: Interested in reading about the pandemic's effect on regional health care? The Institute recently published a systems analysis exploring this very issue!
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