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Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvanians’

Erie Times E-Edition Article-State vaccine distribution not equitable

Posted by M. C. on February 16, 2021

The people that dictate whether your business or your job, or relative in a care home or maybe you, survive can’t do X times Y = Z.

Figuring X times Y = Z should be the easy part in this pandemic scenario. Imagine what you haven’t been told about the tough stuff.

State central planning. I remember stories of the Soviet Union where one would have to stand in line for 8 hours to get the state allocated left shoe then have to come back the next week for the right shoe. I was young and dumb enough at the time to think “that can’t really happen”.

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=32222033e

Daveen Rae Kurutz Beaver County Times USA TODAY NETWORK

All counties are not created equal, at least not when it comes to vaccine distribution.

The number of doses of COVID-19 vaccine distributed county-to-county varies widely across the state, according to a USA Today network analysis of the first eight weeks of vaccine distribution data provided by the state.

Department of Health Senior Advisor Lindsey Mauldin stressed last week that equity is important when it comes to distributing vaccine.

“It’s important to remember that the Pennsylvania Department of Health is responsible for 66 counties,” Maudlin said. “We have to maintain equity across those counties.”

But that isn’t happening.

The median amount of vaccine received by 65 counties — not including the highest and lowest recipients — is 1,138 doses per 10,0000 residents. That includes all vaccine sent to medical centers, doctors’ offices, independent pharmacies and through the Retail Pharmacy Partnership that makes shots accessible to the public at various grocery store and Rite Aid pharmacies.

Thirty-six counties received more than that number, including some counties receiving more than 3,000 doses per 10,000 residents. Twenty-nine received less than the median amount, including 26 that received fewer than 1,000 doses per 10,000 residents in the first eight weeks of vaccine distribution.

Westmoreland County, for instance, has a population of almost 350,000 and has had significant community spread of the virus, but has received 800 doses per 10,000 residents.

There’s several examples of this kind of inequity in distribution.

Centre County, population 162,385, received 905 doses per 10,000 residents, compared with Franklin County, population 155,027, which received 1,430 doses per 10,000 residents.

Pike County, with 55,809 residents, received 251 doses per 10,000 residents, while Bradford County, population 60,323, received 3,092 doses per 10,000 residents.

Bucks County, with 628,270 residents, received 1,281 doses per 10,000 residents, and Erie County, with 269,728 residents, received 1,261 doses per 10,000 residents.

York County, which has 449,059 residents, received an even smaller share of the pie with 944 doses per 10,000 residents. Monroe County, with its population of 170,271 received even less at 711 doses per 10,000 residents.

Maggi Barton, deputy press secretary for the Department of Health, said that equity is an important consideration as the state allocates vaccine. Officials follow a formula to determine who gets vaccine based on the previous allocation, the amount on hand for distribution, the amount administered, the population, the amount of the population 65 and older, the county’s percent positivity and its death rate.

Some county totals are skewed. For instance, Montour County’s Geisinger Medical Center has received more doses of vaccine in two months than the county has residents. But like Lehigh Valley Health Network, the Danville hospital acts as a hub-andspoke for the Department of Health, elevating the numbers.

“We know that across the state, there are many health care providers, primarily hospitals, that are seen as a hub for care,” Barton said. “Geisinger Danville … is one example, but it is not the only one. Lehigh Valley is the perfect example, based on the concerns we have heard about their allocations. Guthrie in Sayre near the New York border is another, Endless Mountains, in the east, etc. We know that people may cross county lines to seek medical treatment, and that means that they may get vaccinated in a county different from the one in which they live.”

But as of Thursday, 5,518 Montour County residents had received at least one dose of vaccine; 2,623 have received both. In total, about 30% of the county has received at least one dose of vaccine, despite an inundation of doses.

Conversely, Beaver County, with a population of 163,929, has received 860 doses per 10,000 residents. Its community-based health system, Heritage Valley, has hosted numerous vaccination clinics for residents of Beaver and western Allegheny age 74 and older, putting shots in the arms of 11,000. They have 5,000 more people scheduled for their shots in the coming weeks.

Norm Mitry, president and CEO of the health system, has said that he could easily schedule double the number of people if he had the doses to do so. Dan Camp, chairman of the Beaver County Board of Commissioners, said he thinks not having a health department is causing Beaver County to not get as many doses as other places. The board is willing to invest in freezers or whatever it would take to bring more vaccine into one of the state’s oldest counties.

“I believe that if you have a health department, you are receiving more vaccines because your health department can administer those vaccine,” Camp said. “You know, we’ve reached out, we’ve lobbied the Department of Health saying that Heritage Valley has been a great partner. They have a great plan in place to distribute vaccines given to the county.

“And because we don’t have a health department, I believe that’s one of the reasons why we’re not seeing an abundant amount of vaccine coming in.”

Maudlin said that teamwork will play a role in the continued rollout of vaccine, but wouldn’t address whether those areas with a municipal or county health department were ahead of the game.

“As we continue to build out this plan, we’ll be looking at how local providers are working together,” Maudlin said. “We’ll continue to work in lockstep with them to make sure that we can allocate all of these vaccines.”

Maudlin said that patience is the virtue needed as all Pennsylvanians deal with the frustration of higher vaccine demand than supply.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for the Beaver County Times. You can reach her quickly at dku rutz@timesonline.com. Give her a follow on Twitter @DK_NewsData.

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Pennsylvanians May Amend Constitution to Stop Endless Lockdowns | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on February 16, 2021

While covid has allowed the executive branch to run wild, PA is actually structured in a way that makes the decentralization of power easier. PA has the second-largest state legislature, surpassed only by New Hampshire. Critics who have been trying to reduce the size of the legislature state openly that with a smaller legislature those in power would be able to more quickly and easily enact their will with less resistance. PA also has the third-highest number of local governments in the country, which, as I pointed out in 2020, facilitates the stymieing of the state government’s efforts to exert centralized control. Removing the governor’s ability to unilaterally declare perpetual emergencies will help continue this tradition of decentralizing power and authority in the commonwealth.

https://mises.org/wire/pennsylvanians-may-amend-constitution-stop-endless-lockdowns

Zachary Yost

On Friday, February 6, the Pennsylvania (PA) state legislature gave the final approval to put three state constitutional amendments on the ballot for a popular referendum scheduled for May 18. Two of these amendments address the power of the state governor to declare and renew emergency declarations and are both a direct result of conflict between the Republican-controlled legislature and the Democrat governor, Tom Wolf.

The first amendment, titled the Pennsylvania Emergency Declaration Amendment (2021), would add a section to the state constitution that would limit any disaster emergency declaration to a maximum of twenty-one days unless the state legislature voted to extend the order. Additionally, the legislature would be required to pass laws related to each class of emergency enumerated in the amendment and the governor would be forbidden from declaring another emergency based on “the same or substantially similar facts” without a resolution from the state legislature granting that power.

The second amendment, titled the Pennsylvania Legislative Resolution to Extend or Terminate Emergency Declaration Amendment (2021), would grant the state legislature the authority to extend or terminate an emergency declaration by a simple majority vote that is not subject to veto by the governor. This amendment is the direct result of a confusing conflict that took place in June 2020 after the state assembly passed a concurrent resolution to end the coronavirus disaster declaration. Supporters of the resolution argued that it was not necessary for the governor to sign it, while the governor obviously vehemently disagreed. The case went to the Democrat-controlled state supreme court (state supreme court justices are elected in PA) where it was ruled that the governor did have the authority to veto the resolution and prevent it from going into effect. This amendment would explicitly change that and allow the disaster emergency declaration to be ended unilaterally by the legislature.

Only time will tell if these amendments will be enacted into law, but it is worth noting that all ten of the constitutional amendments that have made it to the referendum stage since 1995 have been approved by voters. In fact, a constitutional amendment hasn’t been rejected since 1981. It is yet to be seen whether or not that track record will hold.

Whether they are enacted or not, some way to curtail the governor’s emergency power is urgently needed in the face of the egregious and seemingly unending violations of the traditional rights and liberties of Pennsylvanians in the face of the government’s coronavirus response. In September 2020, a federal judge, William Strickland, ruled that PA’s coronavirus restrictions were unconstitutional and egregious in numerous ways. Strickland noted that the rule-making procedure for the emergency was essentially compiled by an opaque committee with no public accountability, stating that “the manner in which Defendants, through their policy team, designed, implemented, and administered the business closures is shockingly arbitrary.”

Furthermore, the emergency rules were written in such a way that there is no way to end them. Even when the state authorities loosened lockdown restrictions, it was not a “return to normal” but a suspension of the lockdowns, as if those restrictions were the default state of legal existence in the commonwealth for the indefinite future. Strickland stated that in times of emergency some legal deference is due to authorities but “that deference cannot go on forever” and that “the record makes clear that Defendants have no anticipated end-date to their emergency interventions.”

As Ryan McMaken noted at the time, “So, what we have in Pennsylvania is basically a small secret ruling committee which fancies itself the new permanent ruling authority of Pennsylvania indefinitely. There is no end date, no public rule-making process, and no transparency at all.” 

Unfortunately, the appeals court granted the state’s request for a stay of Stickman’s ruling while the government appeals the ruling, and the state’s authority has remained unchanged.

What is even more unfortunate, the Wolf administration has argued for months that its powers to put the millions of inhabitants of PA under veritable house arrest and to close businesses at its capricious whim do not even stem from the emergency declaration but from the Disease Prevention and Control Act. So even if both amendments are added to the Pennsylvania Constitution, the reality is that the governor’s restrictions will likely once again end up in front of the state supreme court that has continually deferred to Wolf’s ukases since the pandemic began.

Even though these amendments may not be silver bullets, they will help to reduce the use of emergency declarations. PA has actually been in a constant “state of emergency” since January 10, 2018, when Wolf declared a state of emergency due to the abuse of opioid medications. The state of emergency has been extended twelve times since then. While it is obvious that opioid abuse is a major problem here in PA, it is grossly inappropriate to have a perpetual state of emergency over the issue. If it truly were an “emergency,” then three years would have been more than enough time to enact legislation to make the necessary changes that are currently in effect only as a result of the governor’s unilateral action.

Not only will these amendments reduce the abuse of emergency declarations, but they will also help to decentralize power within PA. While covid has allowed the executive branch to run wild, PA is actually structured in a way that makes the decentralization of power easier. PA has the second-largest state legislature, surpassed only by New Hampshire. Critics who have been trying to reduce the size of the legislature state openly that with a smaller legislature those in power would be able to more quickly and easily enact their will with less resistance. PA also has the third-highest number of local governments in the country, which, as I pointed out in 2020, facilitates the stymieing of the state government’s efforts to exert centralized control. Removing the governor’s ability to unilaterally declare perpetual emergencies will help continue this tradition of decentralizing power and authority in the commonwealth. Author:

Zachary Yost

Zachary Yost is a freelance writer and Mises U alum. You can subscribe to his newsletter here.

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