The year 2020 was dominated by a looming health crisis, a struggling economy, and US elections. Here is a recap of the top news in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania State sees the most job losses due to Covid-19 pandemic
March 2020 had a record-breaking spike in Jobless claims in the US. The most affected states were Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Michigan, Hawaii, and Kentucky. As Pennsylvania took a different strategy to slow the spread of the virus, the figures stood at 62 per 1000 people.
But what made unemployment claims the top Pennsylvania News is this state was the battleground that Trump won in 2016. And Pennsylvania was one of the top states Trump needed for a big win.
Within a few weeks, Michigan recorded over 1 million jobless claims (second highest per capita). Overall, Pennsylvania recorded 1.3 million unemployment insurance claims.
Pennsylvania new wave of abandoned gas and oil wells
About 10,000 acres in Pennsylvania occupied gas and oil wells. But the Pennsylvania news reporters revealed something that shocked the federal environmental regulators – the project’s death.
Kane-based ARG Resources was one of the best companies that quietly shut down. It had over 1600 wells but claimed that it didn’t have money for operations. It’s believed that most companies closed down due to the drop in oil prices.
Each of the abandoned wells was a risk – they could pollute streams, emit climate-changing gases, or create explosion hazards. After this discovery, the DEP officials were keen to prevent other abandonments. And as the oil demand dropped due to the public health crisis, more stringent measures were needed to combat the situation. The government requires well operators to seal them after use. As part of the rescue plan, ARG began to seek more resources to keep the wells in operation.
Protests over stay-at-home orders
The top news that caught the attention of reporters is the street protests. Most residents slammed the safety precautions and termed the pandemic an act of tyranny.
The government spokesman told Pennsylvania news reporters that no protests were allowed. And any event that defied the rules on social distancing encouraged the spread of the virus.
The biggest protests happened in Harrisburg where many people didn’t adhere to the social distancing rules. As the government requested citizens to stay at home, a group of Pennsylvanians was against excessive quarantine.
The group demanded that most stay-at-home directives be lifted until May 2020. It’s worth mentioning that these demonstrations were being carried out amid rising cases. At the time this Pennsylvania news was being reported, the state had recorded over 33,000 infections. And all 67 counties had positive cases.
Despite the grim numbers, most residents were of the view that businesses were forced to lay off employees even as the economy experienced free falls. In another statement released to Pennsylvania news houses, the protesting group emphasized that it was not affiliated with any political party. However, most protestors held trump reelection posters high.
Swing state sharp divide
A new Change Research Poll told news reporters that swing-state voters were sharply divided six months before the general election. The divide was recorded in states like:
- Northern Carolina
In a hypothetical match, president Trump showed a narrow lead over Biden. This was after a disagreement whether there was to be the second wave of Covid-19 or not – and who was to blame.
Most Democrats said that they took all the precautions set by the health sector like social distancing, wearing of masks, etc. On the other hand, republicans gave their views that corporations should be sued for liability if the employees contacted the virus.
According to reports that reached Pennsylvania news houses, the poll had a small margin of error of plus/minus 1.9 percentage points.
As 40% of Democrats thought that things were getting worse, 71% of Republicans were of the view that the pandemic was under control. And eight in every ten democrats had a serious concern about the virus. These views brought a partisan divide, and gave a hint there could be a possible wave of coronavirus.
The reason why the swing votes caught the attention of Pennsylvania news reporters is because they would give a hint who was to take the win of Pennsylvania State.
There was a worrisome sign for the president as he refused to wear masks in public even when visiting a factory that manufactured masks. Instead, he took an anti-malaria drug to prevent the spread of the virus. This was contrary to what most people were doing. The democrats were taking the right steps to combat the virus including:
- Canceling trips
- Hand washing
- Storing food
- Delaying large purchases
- Avoiding restaurants
Pennsylvania Supreme Court sides with democrats on drop boxes and absentee ballot deadline
A few days to Election Day, the Supreme Court approved the use of mail-in ballot boxes. According to Pennsylvania news reporters, this case was brought forward by the Democratic Party. As the battle over voting rules heightened, millions of voters were forced to extend the ballot deadline. This forced Pennsylvania to allow more voters to cast their ballot via mail.
But given the state’s possible path to the democratic nominee (Joe Biden) and President Trump, the legal plight was expected to be fierce.
The Supreme Court addressed Pennsylvania news reporters and stated that the deadline for absentee ballots was pushed to 6th November 2020. However, the court rejected an argument about `naked ballots’. It emphasized that no ballot would be counted without an outer envelope. Nevertheless, the ruling cleared the way to mail out absentee ballots.
Governor Tom Wolf orders businesses to be shut down
Pennsylvania governor ordered thousands of businesses (not self-sustaining) to shut down. According to Tom Wolf, these measures were meant to slow the spread of the virus. While these measures drew fierce condemnation, it was one of the toughest measures in response to the pandemic.
In a video statement released to Pennsylvania news media houses, voluntary compliance would help to contain the virus.
Gov. Wolf emphasized that he would not use police to enforce the measures. But those who were met violating the laws risked losing their licenses and pay fines. One Pennsylvania Insulation Contractor submitted. Violators would also risk prosecution.
While the republican legislators challenged the governor for setting off panic, Wolf said that the mandatory closure was a simple way of combating the virus. Among the businesses that were allowed to open were:
- Beer distributors
- Grocery stores
- Building materials
The other thing that caught the attention of news reporters is the operation of bars and restaurants. They continued to offer carry-out service – not dine-in service. The governor’s directive also stated that hospitals should create more capacity in anticipation of a surge in cases. But this wouldn’t go without a challenge as the move was questioned by a small-business advocacy group.
Sen. Pat Toomey opposed $2000 stimulus checks
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey was one of the few Republicans who opposed the stimulus checks as part of the Covid-19 relief package. Late Sunday, president trump had signed a $600 relief package into law. But most Pennsylvania news houses stated that the package wasn’t enough.
Since bigger payments aligned with the democrats, the house of representatives suggested boosting the checks by $2,000. Also, president-elect, Joe Biden got overwhelming support for larger checks. But this news didn’t sit for many Republican senators. The majority leader (Mitch McConnell) blocked the legislation stating the house needed more time to discuss it.
And this is where Sen. Pat Toomey agreed with McConnell’s approach. In a statement released to news houses on Tuesday afternoon, Toomey emphasized that the unemployment figures were high and the economy was in bad shape. He further emphasized that the travel, hospitality, and entertainment industry were suffering. So, the stimulus package of $2,000 was too high to sustain.
The senator also stated that printing trillions of dollars to support workers who may have missed a check didn’t sound economically viable.
During an interview with the CNN news desk, Toomey stated that the legislators should avoid voting for the bill. And that the checks would be of dubious merit amid lockdowns. If something was to be done, there ought to be a sensible talk to ensure money goes to those who need it.
Protests over Floyd Death
Just like in other states, many protestors went to the streets over racial injustice and police brutality. And thousands marched on Pennsylvania streets including:
According to Pennsylvania news reporters, most demonstrations were peaceful, although others turned violent. Some protestors smashed windows, ransacked stores, and set cars ablaze. Police used bean bags and tear gas, but there some concerns about the use of ammunitions during protests. In a separate event caught by Pennsylvania news reporters, several incidents were captured on video.
In Pennsylvania, a new commission was set to look at more sweeping changes like sitting on a suspect’s neck and how to make policing more equitable. The legislature was approved in Harrisburg and made it tough for bad cops to hop from one department to another. Another law stated that police must undergo training to learn de-escalation techniques. While this was an important step, more needed to be done.
A tour bus crash in Pennsylvania
Early 2020, a tour bus was involved in a crash that left five people dead. According to reports by Pennsylvania news journalists, five people lost their lives while dozens of others sustained injuries.
The pileup involved a bus tour, tractor-trailers, and a passenger car near Turnpike in Mount Pleasant Township. The bus was heading to Cincinnati after it failed to negotiate a corner and rolled.
A police spokesman told Pennsylvania news reporters that the bus was then hit by three tractor-trailers. And a passenger vehicle was involved in the crash, and that’s what led to the pileup. This section of the road was closed for more than 12 hours.
Joe Biden Pulls away in Pennsylvania 28 days to the election
Over the years, Pennsylvania has been the republican’s battleground. But 28 days to the general elections, the state looked far of a reach to the incumbent President Trump. At the time this Pennsylvania news was being released, Joe Biden maintained the lead by 12 percentage points.
In another poll by Mammoth University, 42% of Pennsylvania residents preferred president trump, while 54% backed Joe Biden. Having given the presidential nominee a healthy lead, this was a bad sign for President Trump. Most Pennsylvania news houses stated that the majority of the residents trusted Biden on his ability to manage the pandemic. Other polls and surveys that showed Biden was in the lead included:
- Real clear politics average
- New York Times/ Siena polls
- YouGov Polls/ CBS News
Penn State University delays ticket sales for 2020 football season
The university athletic department told Pennsylvania news desks that students would have to wait a little longer to buy the tickets for the 2020 football season. This was due to the safety concerns of students. There were concerns about how many fans would be allowed to enter the stadium.
With the 2020 season still on, Penn State worked on phase two of the return plan. The emails sent to students stated that there would be men and women football.
President Trump cancels an event alleging voter fraud
Incumbent President Donald Trump was set to attend an event in Pennsylvania to talk about allegations of election fraud. Several Pennsylvania news reporters stated that trump would be joined by his lawyer. This news came after scheduling similar events in Arizona and Michigan.
As president trump continued to allege illegal elections, he was advocating for a powerful transition of power. Most Pennsylvania news houses also aired Gov. Tom Wolf stating that Joe Biden had a landslide win.
Supreme Court denies bid to overturn presidential results
Before the official results were released, a republican congressman challenged the state law and sought that the votes be thrown out. But the court dismissed any allegations of election fraud.
Pennsylvania certify Biden’s win over Trump
A few days after the elections, Pennsylvania State certified the results of President-elect Joe Biden. This Pennsylvania news comes a day after the Trump administration released funds for his transition to the statehouse. It because more difficult for Trump to challenge the results after Nevada confirmed that Biden had won.
Pennsylvania news houses also stated that President Trump had done everything possible to stop the certification of results. Apart from disfranchising voters, he filed 15 lawsuits that were all rejected. The judge in Pennsylvania court said the argument lacked `merit’.
President-elect Joe Biden won by 50% while trump scored 48.8%. In a tweet, Gov. Wolf stated that the election workers performed honorably even though they were constantly under attack.