Here’s how Pennsylvania’s Olympians fared in Tokyo | Five for the Weekend

After two long weeks of competition, the Tokyo Olympics will come to a close on Sunday.

By: - August 7, 2021 6:30 am

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Happy weekend, all.

After two long weeks of competition, the Tokyo Olympics will come to a close on Sunday.

So how did Pennsylvania’s more than two dozen Olympians do?

David Taylor, Olympian and former Nittany Lion earned a gold medal in wrestling.

Four-time Olympian Allison Schmidt won a silver medal in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay and a bronze medal in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.

York County’s Hali Flickinger earned two bronze medals – one in the 200-meter butterfly and one in the 400-meter individual medley.

Shot put phenom and Penn State alum Joe Kovacs earned a silver medal.

Lancaster-born soccer star Abby Dahlkemper earned a bronze medal in her first-ever Olympic appearance.

Valarie Allman, who was “raised mostly” in Hershey, earned a gold medal in the discus throw at her first-ever Olympic appearance.

Let’s give a well-earned congratulations to all of the Olympians who represented the commonwealth in Tokyo!

As always, the top 5 stories from this week are below. 

Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam speaks at a press conference.

1. Pa. health officials decline new mask mandate, discuss vaccine initiatives

In light of climbing rates of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, state health officials on Thursday urged Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated.

Pennsylvania exceeded 1,000 daily COVID-19 cases for the first time since May — the state reported 1,088 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in the commonwealth  is 710 — a 62 percent increase compared to last week.

The recent spike in COVID-19 cases is due to the prevalence of the contagious Delta variant, which makes up around 85 percent of cases in the U.S., according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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2. Pennsylvania among worst states in nation in outdoor economic value, says study

Pennsylvania has more than 300,000 acres of state parks where people can hike, picnic, camp, fish, hunt, and more, but a new study from Outdoorsy shows the Keystone State is one of the lowest performers in terms of how much outdoor recreation contributes to the state’s economy. According to the study, outdoor recreation contributes 1.6 percent of Pennsylvania’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP), compared to 2.2 percent nationally.

The report draws from data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’s 2019 Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account and ranks states by their economic dependency on outdoor recreation based on the outdoor recreation industry’s share of GDP, employment, and compensation in each state. Pennsylvania received a 6.2 on the outdoor recreation dependency index, falling far behind states such as South Carolina, at 74.6, and New Hampshire, at 82.8, both of which were in the top 15 of state’s economically dependent on outdoor recreation.

While Pennsylvania ranks 24th in highest percentage of land covered in state parks and national parks, and contains popular outdoor recreation destinations like the Laurel Highlands and the Pocono Mountains, it still falls behind states with comparable percentages of parkland such as New Hampshire, which ranks 20 for state and national parks but has much higher an outdoor recreation dependency index. Pennsylvania also trails states with lower rankings, such as South Carolina, which ranks 35 for state and national parks.

State Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, speaks at a press conference announcing a bill to legalize marijuana with Democratic state Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, on Feb. 24, 2021. (Courtesy of Senate Democrats)

3. ‘We have real work to do.’ Pa. Sen. Laughlin breaks silence, denounces election investigation

The first Republican in the GOP-controlled state Senate to speak out against the proposed “forensic investigation” into Pennsylvania’s two most recent elections has a message to colleagues on both sides of the aisle: “We have real work to do in the Capitol.”

In an op-Ed sent to news organizations around the state, Sen. Daniel Laughlin, R-Erie, who’s exploring a run for governor, denounced attempts to review the 2020 general and 2021 elections, making him the first and so far the only member of his party to voice opposition.

“For the first time in 60 years, Pennsylvanians elected Republicans to the post of state treasurer and auditor general and came within reach of ousting a Democratic attorney general,” Laughlin wrote. “That’s not a sign of a stolen election.”

Former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election by 80,555 votes in Pennsylvania. And despite a months-long campaign from Republicans and Trump allies to discredit the results, there’s been no evidence to prove their claims.

A certified nurse anesthetist at work (Photo via University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh/Flickr Commons)

4. Nurses care for us – it’s time we stand up and do more for them | Opinion

“I can work in a gas station and make more money than being a nurse in a nursing home. I want my residents to spend their final years with dignity and respect. COVID didn’t start this crisis; it just shined a light on it.” – A Certified Nursing Assistant from Lackawanna County addresses a House Democratic Policy Hearing on working conditions in long-term care homes.

Nurses were already just about the hardest-working people in the world. No matter if they work in a long-term care center, an intensive care ward or a private practice everyone knows nurses are the ones really getting the work done – but the problem is those nurses aren’t getting paid for that work the way they deserve to be paid.

Having worked as a registered nurse in hospital settings for 27 years I can attest a nurse spends about 75 minutes with a patient. A nurse sees the truth behind the diagnosis. A nurse sees the reality of a treatment. A nurse is a caregiver, a counselor, an advocate.

Then-acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Clark speaks next to then-Deputy U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at a news conference, where they announced that Purdue Pharma LP had agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges over the handling of its addictive prescription opioid OxyContin at the Justice Department on 10/21/20 in (Photo by Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty Images).

5.Top Trump DOJ official’s letter staked out Georgia as path to a coup | Jay S. Bookman

On Dec. 28, a top official in the Trump Department of Justice circulated an extraordinary, potentially history-altering letter to his colleagues, writing that “I see no valid downsides” to issuing the letter and proposing that they “get it out as soon as possible.”

In that letter, reported this week by ABC News, Jeffrey Clark falsely claimed that there were such “significant concerns” about the legitimacy of the election in Georgia that Gov. Brian Kemp ought to call the state Legislature into special session to overturn the results and give Donald Trump the state’s 16 electoral votes.

That of course was a lie, a lie created to foment a coup.

And that’s the week. See you back here next weekend. 

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.