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CURRENT NEWS

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City Council holds first-ever remote meeting, approves $85 million Emergency Appropriation

April 2, 2020 — City Council held a historic remote meeting and voted to give final approval to an emergency $85 Million appropriation to help the city contain and mitigate the Coronavirus outbreak across Philadelphia.

The emergency appropriation measure, Bill 200258, was requested by the Kenney administration to fund an array of operations and initiatives essential to fighting the outbreak in Philadelphia. More information on the bill can be found at http://phlcouncil.com.

“These are extraordinary times,” said Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District). “The crisis we are facing brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented. Every part of our economy is going to feel the impact of these months of sheltering-in-place. Just as the stimulus plan at the federal level is believed to be the first of many steps on a long road to our nation’s recovery, what Council voted on today is just the beginning of what we will need to do to help our residents, small businesses, and other organizations rebuild after this pandemic.”

"Intergovernmental cooperation, coordination, and strategic planning are of the utmost importance to our citizenry during these unprecedented times,” said Council’s Majority Leader, Cherelle Parker (9th District). “I’m proud to note that that our City Council is working in a unified manner with our Federal and State Government leaders. This is the only way that we will maximize the efficient use of the scarce resources available to save the people and businesses in our city from economic calamity."

To read more get ScoopUSA Media, April 7, 2020, page 3

District Attorney Krasner and Chief Defender Bradford-Grey urge Courts to take progressive steps...

(April 3, 2020) – District Attorney Larry Krasner and Chief Defender Keir Bradford-Grey issued the following joint statement calling on the First Judicial District to take immediate actions to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in the criminal justice system:

"The Defender Association of Philadelphia and the District Attorney’s Office are glad that the First Judicial District is finally ready to do expedited reviews of specific categories for release from jail. But neither the number of cases nor the timeline proposed by the FJD will be enough to significantly reduce the jail population enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our jails and prisons.

"Our efforts to safely reduce our jail population began in early March when we met with the courts to express our concern about the pandemic. Since then, the Defender and the DAO have worked together to identify seven categories of inmates who could potentially be released from jail without impacting public safety, including people who are being held for technical violations of probation; people who have already served their minimum sentence; and people who are detained on less than $50,000 bail.

"Those charged with sex offenses, crimes of violence, including gun offenses, and the sale of drugs weren’t included in our proposals.

"The FJD has agreed to review cases in just three categories, amounting to about 7% of the jail population, and won’t begin hearings until Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Our proposal would have granted immediate case reviews for more than 2,000 incarcerated people, nearly half of the jail population, which would allow for the social distancing necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"Other jurisdictions have worked far more aggressively to reduce their jail populations. Over the last two weeks, Kentucky has seen a state-wide reduction in jail inmates of 28% and the 15 largest counties in Colorado have reduced their jail population by 31%. Even the troubled Riker’s Island’s jail population is below 5,000 -- roughly equivalent to ours, although New York is home to five times as many people. Meanwhile, Philadelphia has seen only a 5% reduction since courts were closed on March 17, 2020.

 "Though we often find ourselves on different sides of the courtroom, the District Attorney’s Office and the Defender Association are united by our commitment to do all that we can to prevent unnecessary suffering and death due to a global pandemic that threatens every one of us. 

Walls, bars, and borders mean nothing to this coronavirus. In order to protect as many Philadelphians as possible from COVID-19, our courts must take immediate and bold action and become part of ongoing comprehensive and collaborative public health and safety efforts."

Beacon honors three business leaders with the First Ever Beacon Icon Award

For Women’s History Month, Beacon – Philadelphia’s premier networking organization for senior level business executives – honored three business leaders making a positive impact on advancing the influence of women in the workplace. The first-ever Beacon ICON Award represents the organization’s efforts to highlight the value and impact of gender diversity in the workplace. Business leaders selected have demonstrated exceptional commitment to lifting women through mentorship and inclusion. The Beacon Icon Award is designed to showcase what is possible when women are surrounded with resources and support that help them succeed. Candidates are nominated by Beacon members and are chosen from throughout the greater Philadelphia area.

The 2020 Icon Award winners (bios) are:

Natasha J. Andrews (Philadelphia, PA), Director of Programs and Community Engagement at Girls Incorporated of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Natasha’s passion for education, girls and women’s issues, the arts, and music guides her professional and personal journey. At Girls Inc., Natasha has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of girls in many capacities through mentoring, education, training and outreach. With her leadership, the organization’s outreach programs have grown over 750 percent since 2007, increasing community and school partnerships that support girls.

Alyssa Budraitis (Coopersburg, PA), Founder and Owner of Beautiful Linens, LLC, an online retailer serving the home textile and apparel accessory markets. Prior to starting her own business, Alyssa had a successful corporate career where she was used to being one of the only women in the room. As she rose in her responsibilities, she made it her mission to take time to mentor and cultivate talent, especially women. She did this through sponsoring and participating in women-oriented events such as Lean-In initiatives and being a role-model in an industry and company that was male dominated early in her career. When she left her corporate career to start her own business, she left behind a more diverse global organization, with more women in senior-level roles, in part due to her efforts to mentor women throughout her tenure.

Kristina Kohl (Moorestown, NJ), CEO of Becoming Sustainable and HRComputes. Kristina’s work covers topics of Strategic Volunteerism, Flexible Work Arrangements, Gender Equity, Climate Change, Culture of Inclusion, AI and Bias, ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and Gender Lens investing, amongst others. Her curriculum of HR and Sustainability strives to increase the awareness of issues affecting women and all minorities in the workplace through the 

To read more Beacon honors, get ScoopUSA Digital, April 7, 2020

How to rebuild your business following the Coronavirus aftermath and beyond

HARRISBURG, Pa (April 1, 2020) – Millions of businesses around the country have been forced to close their doors temporarily amid the coronavirus pandemic. Many of the business owners and managers can use this time to determine the next move they will take when they get the green light that they can open back up. This is essentially a time of rebuilding one’s business, and the course that people take will help determine whether their business will thrive or ultimately dive. One industry expert says the key to thriving following the coronavirus is to ensure that their employees all share in a unifying vision.

“The most important thing that business leaders can do following this shutdown is to have a unifying vision with their team,” explains Joe Curcillo, bestselling author, business coach, lawyer and motivational speaker. “When people believe in the vision of what they are doing, they are going to go above and beyond to help a business grow. It’s all a matter of getting them on board with that vision.”

Many businesses believe there’s a disconnect between their millennial employees and all of the others. Curcillo disagrees, feeling that it’s really a matter of business leaders falling short on the ability to effectively lead. The best way to tackle that problem, he says, is to focus on a unifying vision. When you give people something they can believe in, they will want to be on board with helping to get the company going and surpassing where they were before the shutdowns.

According to a Gallup poll, millennials are the least engaged generation at work, with 55% of them not being engaged. Yet, they also say that everything that is important to your organization depends on deepening your understanding of how millennials live, work, and spend their money.

To read more How to Rebuild your Business, read ScoopUSA Digital, page  8

Are Social Distancing Parties the Cure for the Pandemic?

by Justice Horne

We all know the global pandemic has put a pause on regular life. What many individuals did after work or on a Friday night has been replaced by social distancing. Festivals, concerts, and even hanging out with a couple friends are just some of the social outlets millions had to give up due to COVID-19. 

However, creatives have it all under control. While being persistent in not spreading the Coronavirus and following stay-at-home orders, artists have been interacting with people through virtual dance parties via Instagram, thanks to their live feature that began in November 2016. Recenlty, pioneer of the movement, DJ D-Nice broke a record, reaching 100,000 viewers within fifteen minutes of starting his Social Distancing Dance Party, “Homeschoolin.” Not only is DJ D-Nice the avant-garde of the coolest dance party, the DJ put together this quarantine party with a purpose.

   Artists are really taking a stand against the global pandemic and getting creative with ways to get around the spread. DJ, producer, as well as photographer, DJ D-Nice is one of many to do so in such an amazingly innovative manner. The DJ welcomed everyone to his “club quarantine” as he hosted “Homeschoolin,” his form of social distancing and partying all in one. Thousands upon thousands of people gathered on his Instagram live to connect their bluetooths to their speakers and virtual gather while listening to DJ D-Nice mix their favorite songs. Former First Lady, Mrs.Michelle Obama, Queen Latifah, Magic Johnson, and Oprah are just some of the familiar individuals that joined the social gathering to enjoy the creative space. Even networks, such as Netflix and the NFL Network were spotted revelling with DJ D-Nice and hundreds of others. The movement sparked other artists like Anthony Hamilton, Ne-Yo, and T-Pain to perform Instagram live concerts.

 While it may have been a good time, it wasn’t just that for DJ D-Nice. DJ D-Nice started the Social Distancing Dance Party on March 20th, 2020 and carried it through March 22, 2020 with more than just the incentive to get people grooving in the comfort of their homes. Not only did the quarantine party act as a stress reliever and a way to look at the bright side of things while dealing with the pandemic, it was a way to gain more voter turnout in America.

To read more social distancing, read ScoopUSA Digital page 10

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Black Doctors COVID 19 Consortium provide Free COVID 19 Testing in North Philadelphia

Black Doctors Covid19 Consortium provided Free COVID19 Testing in Philadelphia on Saturday, April 18, 2020.  The testing was performed locally, in North Philadelphia, at Miller Memorial Baptist Church, 1518 North 22nd Street. 

The requirements to be tested were less restrictive than past Testing Sites.  Average citizens were FINALLY being given an opportunity to be tested.  The only requirements, per the information provided by the Consortium were:

1. If you are in Philadelphia and you are having coronavirus type symptoms* (SYMPTOMS: cough, sneeze, sore throat, shortness of breath, fever, loss of smell, loss of taste, diarrhea, or weakness)  and you would like to be tested, or 

2. If you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive (or suspected to be positive for coronavirus) in the past 14 days, and you would like to be tested

After learning that the BLACK DOCTORS COVID19 CONSORTIUM would be testing people from in our community, I felt it was necessary that Scoop go to the church to see the process, meet the doctors and find out exactly how the program works and where it came from. 

When I got to the testing site around 2:15pm there were chairs lined up one behind the other, but spaced out and you could see that the goal was to ensure that the space met the social distancing requirements.  People were seated in all of the chairs, and each time a person left, someone else would walk up and take a seat.  The flow was constant. There was no long line and the process seemed to be running very smoothly. 

I had a chance to meet with Dr. Ala Stanford, the doctor who initiated the COVID-19 CONSORTIUM, and l asked her how this effort got started. 

According to Dr. Stanford, she had begun receiving all types of calls for information pertaining to COVID-19 and she was fielding questions and providing information and support to people over the phone. When she learned of the impact of the virus on the African American community and became aware of the lack of testing and need for treatment, she decided to do something about it.

As a licensed doctor, Dr. Stanford who has an active contract with LabCorp and she was able to obtain the in-demand testing materials. She then polled staff and friends in the medical community to see who was willing to support her initiative.  She was able to get commitment and support from other Black doctors and medical support staff. Finally, she spoke with her Pastor who then talked with other pastors to arrange hosting COVID-19 testing sites people would trust and feel comfortable going to be tested.

Read more at Digital Scoop, April 21, 2020

Digital Scoop, April 21,2020

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PhillyCam releases Census videos in eight languages

PHILADELPHIA, April 16, 2020 — PhillyCAM has released a series of videos in eight different languages about the importance of the 2020 Census. View the videos at on Phillycam's YouTube page. The videos are in Spanish, Haitian Creole, Lao, and African languages Mandinka, Yoruba, Soninke, Amharic, and Fulani — in addition to some in English/multilingual.

In response to COVID-19, all 2020 Census fieldwork must be done remotely. There will be no Census workers going door to door. Now that all the outreach work will be done online and by phone, reaching people virtually is vital. PhillyCAM’s videos explain that the Census is safe, important, and able to be completed on smartphones and tablets.

Analysis of previous Census data indicates that people experiencing poverty, communities of color, and non-English speaking communities are at a high risk of being undercounted. These short videos support outreach campaigns to those groups.

Coronavirus deaths rise with addition of probable deaths

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Coronavirus-associated deaths are now up to 1,112 in Pennsylvania, state health officials said Sunday, adding 276 new deaths because electronic and probable-cause deaths are now being reported.

Dr Rachel Levine, the commonwealth's health secretary, said the updated numbers are part of the department's efforts to reconcile data provided by hospitals, health care systems, county and municipal health departments and long-term care living facilities with the department's own records of births and deaths. 

"The majority of these deaths did not occur overnight," Levine said, adding later that 148 of them occurred during the last week.

There have been at least 1,200 new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total above 32,200, Levine said.

Levine emphasized that the department was basing decisions on trends in the data indicating the effectiveness of social distancing and other mitigation efforts ordered by the governor.

"Our trends are showing that Pennsylvanians' sacrifice to stay at home is working," Levine said.

Out of the total deaths, 462 have occurred in residents from nursing homes or personal care facilities, the department said. There were 4,450 resident cases of COVID-19 and 479 cases among employees at 368 facilities in 35 counties, officials said.

Seniors, particularly those in long-term care facilities, are most at risk from the coronavirus, Levine said.

"Long-term care living facilities, which include but are not exclusive to nursing homes and personal care homes, are a particularly vulnerable place; once a case of COVID19 is diagnosed there, it's very hard to prevent its spread," Levine said.

Many people in such facilities have other medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, uncontrolled hypertension, lung and kidney diseases. "Those are by far the individuals most at risk from contracting COVID-19 and from having severe effects from COVID-19," Levine said.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.


OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

- The unparalleled decision a month ago to close the state-owned stores that sell nearly all of Pennsylvania's liquor and much of its wine prompted some people to drive across state lines to stock up, risking a misdemeanor charge.



Liquor store closures drive drinkers to seek booze options

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The unparalleled decision a month ago to close the state-owned stores that sell nearly all of Pennsylvania's liquor and much of its wine prompted some people to drive across state lines to stock up, risking a misdemeanor charge.

Although Ohio, West Virginia and Delaware have cracked down, vehicles with Pennsylvania tags continue to crowd liquor store parking lots in New York, New Jersey and Maryland border towns amid continuing restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf began closing businesses in March, and the Liquor Control Board, after consulting with him, soon shut down its retail outlets. Many liquor cabinets are running low and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's pivot to online sales has been, for most, an exercise in frustration in a state of nearly 13 million people.

"Most people don't have a large store of liquor in their house. For one thing, it's expensive," said alcohol writer Lew Bryson, of Langhorne. "I think people are running out of their daily drink, and that's putting the pressure on."

Read more in the April 21, 2020 edition of Scoop Digital 

Beyoncé, Gaga offer hope at all-star event fighting COVID-19

NEW YORK (AP) — Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Lizzo, Shawn Mendes and others sang classic songs brimmed with messages of hope and change during a TV special aimed at fighting the coronavirus, while Beyoncé and Alicia Keys spoke passionately about how the virus has disproportionately affected black Americans.

Beyoncé made a surprise appearance on Saturday's TV special "One World: Together At Home," thanking "delivery workers, mail carriers and sanitation employees" for their hard work during the pandemic.

"Black Americans disproportionately belong to these essential parts of the workforce that do not have the luxury of working from home. And African American communities at large have been severely affected in this crisis. Those with pre-existing conditions are at an even higher risk. This virus is killing black people at an alarmingly high rate here in America," Beyoncé said.

African Americans account for more than one-third of COVID-19 deaths in the United States where the race of victims has been made public. Data from states, cities and counties show black people are regularly overrepresented compared to their share of the population. 

"Please protect yourselves," Beyoncé continued. "We are one family. We need you. We need your voices, your abilities and your strength all over this word. I know it's very hard but please be patient, stay encouraged, keep the faith, stay positive and continue to pray for our heroes."

An Associated Press analysis, based on data through Thursday, found that of the more than 21,500 victims whose demographic data was known and disclosed by officials, more than 6,350 were black, a rate of nearly 30%. African Americans account for 14.2% of the 241 million people who live in the areas covered by the analysis. The nation had recorded more than 33,000 deaths as of Thursday.

Read more in the April 21, 2020 edition of Scoop USA Digital 

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