ISSUE 88 | December 14, 2020
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From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News
Community organizations boosted by tax credits
Governor Tom Wolf recently announced that the Neighborhood Assistance Program will distribute $36 million in tax credits to community revitalization projects throughout Pennsylvania.

Several organizations in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties are receiving funding; for example, United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania will use its tax credit to assist small businesses, and the Commission on Economic Opportunity will help its food banks partner with additional vendors. 

PA hospitals on the brink of a staffing crisis
A surge in COVID-19 cases has led to staffing shortages in at least a third of all hospitals in southwest and south-central Pennsylvania, according to state data.

State officials are encouraging healthcare systems to collaborate and share resources (including staff) in order to meet patient needs.

Some healthcare systems are looking to staffing agencies, traveling nurses, and retired health professionals to address their staffing challenges. 

NEPA health systems preparing for vaccine distribution
Healthcare systems in Northeast Pennsylvania have begun preparations for storing and distributing the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.

According to health officials, the first round of vaccines will be distributed to frontline healthcare workers, long-term care patients, and essential workers.

Vaccinations may not be available to the general public for several months.

Research Spotlight: Interested in learning about the pandemic's impact on the regional healthcare system?

From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News
Unemployment claims jump just before critical aid programs are set to expire
According to the Department of Labor, 853,000 people filed new unemployment compensation claims in the week ending December 5.

Claims also jumped among self-employed and gig workers, who can now receive assistance under a special federal program.

Federal relief programs such as expanded unemployment benefits are currently set to expire at the end of the month. 

Inequality ‘baked into’ testing access
Public health and social service professionals have expressed concern that rapid testing for COVID-19 may not be accessible to everyone.

Barriers to equitable access include the high cost of the test – especially for people without health insurance – and difficulty finding time in work schedules to get tested.

Analysis reveals methods of supporting families affected by the opioid epidemic
A new analysis from the Urban Institute explores how families with children are affected by the opioid crisis, as well as actions for better supporting those families.

The authors found that access to treatment for substance abuse is often limited, and that systems serving children tend to be insufficiently equipped to respond to opioid-related problems. 

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