What You Need to Know: Capitol riots, new COVID-19 strain, and Allentown’s new leadership

Written by on January 8, 2021

What You Need to Know: A Capitol riot, a new coronavirus strain, and Allentown’s changing leadership

By Tyler Pratt and Jen Rehill

January 8, 2021

This week, with Local Host/Reporter Tyler Pratt sitting in for the vacationing Brad Klein, Pratt and WLVR News Director Jen Rehill took a look at the week in review.

Pratt

“Even with the events that happened Jan. 6 in our nation’s capitol, there were a lot of important breaking developments here in Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.”

Rehill

“Tyler, So much has happened this week. I feel like I’m still trying to sort out exactly what we need to know. I was speaking with Reporter Genesis Ortega earlier today, and she said to me, ‘ feel like Wednesday was an entire month.’”

Pratt

“Yeah, I have definitely been drained from the past couple of days. So, let’s start with the protest that turned into a violent mob storming Capitol Hill. Pennsylvania’s congressional delegates were there, and the Lehigh Valley’s Democratic congresswoman, Susan Wild, was trapped in the chaos. Jen, you spoke to her during those events.”

Rehill

“I spoke to Rep. Wild on her cell phone just a little after 6 p.m. Wednesday. At that point she had been evacuated and was in an location that she couldn’t tell us about somewhere in the Capitol complex. Let’s listen to part of the conversation that we had in which she described the scene as she and other House members to cover on the floor of the house and as she heard bullets flying and Capitol police tried to keep the mob in the hallway out of the chamber:”

Wild

“It was scary. I lost a shoe in the process, which just made me more anxious because I was afraid I would have trouble running if I needed to, minus a shoe. It was an extremely stressful situation and at the same time not sure whether we’re about to get shot or not.”

Rehill

Something about having lost a shoe in a situation where you’re afraid you might need to run for your life is a really striking moment from that day. Wild did eventually return to the floor of the House and finish the process that she had started earlier that day certifying the results of the election and the Electoral College with the rest of Congress. And then yesterday she said that she thought the president should be removed from office for his role in fomenting those violent events.”

Pratt

“We’re hearing a lot of talk now about invoking the 25th Amendment, which gives the president’s Cabinet power to remove him from office. Democratic Sen. Bob Casey has signed on calling Trump a threat to our domestic and national security. Wild said Jan. 7 she was fearful for the remainder of his time in office, and she contrasted how he still has the nuclear codes but was banned from Twitter. And I should mention the president did speak last night, and he condemned the rioters and called for healing and reconciliation as a nation. So all this said, it’s been a hectic week, unlike anything we’ve seen before in modern American history. But it’s not really the only thing you need to know. There’s a lot of news about coronavirus in Pennsylvania.”

Rehill

“There was really bad news from the state Department of Health Jan. 7 They have confirmed that the new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 has been found in Pennsylvania, not so far from here in Dauphin County in central Pa. 

State officials also made a major announcement having to do with education. They’re saying it’s possible elementary school students should be allowed to go back to school which could be great news for some parents. But this announcement came in the same news conference where Sec. Rachel Levine mentioned some numbers that showed that kids’ infection rates have nearly quadrupled since October. It is really scary as a parent to think about sending your kid back to school in a circumstance like that. Locally, Allentown School District remains completely remote. But a lot of school districts in the Valley are operating on a hybrid model, though they’ve been on hiatus for several weeks following the post-Thanksgiving surge in cases.” 

Pratt

“That really is a lot to unpack. Speaking of Allentown, following the violence and turmoil that unfolded in Washington on Jan. 6, as many people were likely trying to process what happened, Allentown City Council had a big schedule business to get to, and that was electing new City Council leaders Julio Guridy as president and Cynthia Mota as vice president. And this is remarkable because they’re both Dominican Americans. And for a town with a major Hispanic and Latino population, the city’s leadership has been historically mostly white. I should mention Guridy says he’s also running for mayor this year. If he wins, he’ll be the first Latino to head Pennsylvania’s third-largest city.” 

Rehill

“Well, Tyler, I know you and the rest of the news team, we’re all going to continue to track those stories and more as we move into 2021 and try to get through the month of January, including the run-up to the inauguration on Jan. 20. So we’ll be sharing the latest you need to know every Friday through this unprecedented time.” 

Listen to the rest of the “What You Need To Know” episodes.

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