What You Need to Know: Snowstorm, Lehigh County Jail vigil and vaccine distribution

Written by on February 5, 2021

What You Need to Know: Snowstorm, Lehigh County Jail vigil and vaccine distribution

By Brad Klein and Jen Rehill

February 5, 2021

Over two feet of snow fell in the Lehigh Valley during the snowstorm Feb 1. The snowstorm did impact vaccinations as appointments were postponed due to the storm. Ultimately, though, Pennsylvania is falling behind on vaccination efficiency. Photos | Jim Deegan [Left] and Frank Augstein/AP [Right]

In our regular Friday feature, ‘What You Need to Know,’ WLVR’s Brad Klein speaks with News Director, Jen Rehill about the most pressing stories of the past week. This week, they review the record-setting snowfall on Monday, issues of pandemic safety at the Lehigh County Jail, and Pennsylvania’s below-average performance in vaccinating its population against COVID-19. 

Listen to the story.

Brad Klein:

“Our week began with a record-breaking snowfall on Monday. I spoke to a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J., who said the previous record at Lehigh Valley International Airport for Feb.1 was something like seven inches, and we had over 22 inches that day.” 

Jen Rehill:

“Ultimately, it was 27 inches by the time the storm was done there at the airport. But it wasn’t the highest total in the region. In fact, that honor went to Nazareth with just a little over 36 inches, followed closely by Forks Township, which had 32 inches. It’s not the biggest record-breaking storm though. It came in second for total snow totals for the region.” 

Klein:

“And we’re still digging out.” 

Rehill:

“That’s right. In fact, officials in Bethlehem and Allentown are asking people to remain patient at this point. Bethlehem has had trucks out on the streets 24 hours a day trying to clear all the roadways. They say all the major roadways are clear and now they’re trying to get to secondary areas downtown. They’re actually having to cart all of the snow down to Sand Island because there’s so much of it and there’s just nowhere for it to go.” 

Klein:

“We also had officials reminding people not to bury the fire hydrants and to shovel around them if they’re able to. 

Some of our most compelling reporting this past week has been on criminal justice. I’m thinking of some of Tyler Pratt’s stories centered on Lehigh County.” 

Rehill:

“Yes, he’s been working on stories about cash bail reform and calls to reform that system and also a story that’s been making a lot of headlines lately in the region which is coronavirus at the Lehigh County Jail. Inmates and corrections officers there have been greatly impacted by the virus. In fact, there was a death of an inmate and the death of a corrections officer there that have really sparked public outcry. There’s going to be a vigil this weekend honoring both men who lost their lives there.”

Klein:

“And that vigil is in Allentown?”

Rehill:

“Yes, it’s going to be held in person outside the  Lehigh County Jail, and there’s also going to be a virtual component.” 

Klein:

“So, that brings us to COVID-19 and once again in brief, the story is about demand exceeding supply when it comes to vaccinations.” 

Rehill:

“And not just that, but also there have been questions raised about how Pennsylvania is doing and faring compared to other states across the country. The Associated Press did data analysis and found that Pennsylvania actually ranks 39th among 50 states in getting the vaccine out to people and into arms. State officials this week came out with a great number: they said they’ve gotten 1million doses into arms. But in terms of the percentage of the population vaccinated, it’s just about 7%. Some of the other high fliers around the country have almost doubled that number.”

Klein:

“It is a discouraging statistic, and I know that officials are working to improve. We’ll have to just watch and see if they are able to succeed. Of course, they keep saying the supply of vaccine from our health department and the governor is the thing that’s holding us back more than anything else.”

Rehill:

“We’re definitely seeing the impact of that, and we’re definitely seeing the impact of that shortfall here in the Lehigh Valley where it’s very difficult to get appointments for a vaccine. There’s a large number of people who are now eligible for the vaccine but there just aren’t many appointments to be had. As you know, health bureaus and health networks are waiting to get vaccines to be able to schedule appointments. And in fact, we have a story coming up next week about a local FaceBook group that has sprung up to crowdsource and help people get those appointments.” 

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