Voices of Our City

CDC drops mask requirement
The CDC said fully vaccinated people can ditch the mask. If you’re fully vaccinated, are you eager to go maskless, or would you prefer to hang on to the mask a bit longer? Send your responses to voices@philadelphiaweekly.com.

A thank you to CHOP health-care heroes

March 16, 2020. The day the stay-at-home order took effect in the Delaware Valley. That day will likely remain a vivid memory of just how drastically our lives can change in an instant. While many of us were able to transition to remote work, not everyone could. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in hospitals. More than one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we must continue to recognize those who remain on the frontlines, fighting for the well-being of our community. This includes one of our nonprofit partners, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which has been there to provide premier medical care to the youngest members of the community throughout this crisis.

Although children have been found to be less susceptible to COVID-19 than adults, the CHOP team has still had to overcome many challenges during the pandemic. Keeping patients, their families, and employees safe and healthy has been a top priority. Additionally, CHOP’s Policy Lab has been doing critical research, including tracking the pandemic and modeling its future path to guide our leaders’ response.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 hasn’t prevented other illnesses. CHOP has continued treating children with chronic conditions that require round-the-clock care, such as those battling cardiac conditions.

The Cardiac Center at CHOP is ranked one of the best in the country. CHOP’s cardiology unit cares for children of all ages, from babies to teens with congenital and acquired heart conditions. CHOP has about 125 experts in cardiac care to help with a patient’s care. Children are undoubtedly in excellent hands.

At NRG, we are proud to support CHOP and more specifically, the Cardiac Center. Four years ago, CHOP became one of the first nonprofits to partner with us for the Choose to Give program. Through Choose to Give, NRG offers electricity plans that benefit local nonprofits. With the Choose to Give CHOP plan, we contribute $50 to the hospital for every customer that enrolls in the program and contribute 1 percent of each customer’s electricity supply charges annually. It’s a unique opportunity to give back to the community with the simple flip of a switch.

Thanks to our customers, we are thrilled to report we have contributed more than $1 million to CHOP’s Cardiac Center, which will help advance breakthrough research and provide exceptional care to improve the lifelong health and well-being of children with congenital heart disease. 

While we can’t celebrate this milestone in person just yet, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to the hard work of so many essential workers, educating the public about the importance of being immunized and more people are getting vaccinated. Let’s all show our support for these tireless fighters and give them a heartfelt thank you.

Mike Starck, Vice President and General Manager, NRG Retail East Region


End the filibuster

The filibuster was created to undermine our voice as voters and slow progress on critical issues. It’s time to put an end to this Jim Crow relic and make sure our government is working for us. 

The filibuster is a loophole, historically used to block civil rights legislation. The original Senate rules did not include the filibuster rule. The modern-day filibuster took root during the Jim Crow era, when racist southern senators used it to delay passage of important civil rights legislation. 

Now, the filibuster means that 60 out of 100 U.S. senators have to vote on almost all legislation. The filibuster blocks deliberation and progress on important issues facing the American people. There are senators who came to Washington to get things done for us – their constituents – and these rules prevent any possibility of change. Senators no longer hold the floor, talking-until-they-drop. It’s now a stealth tool of obstruction. Any senator can signal an objection, and suddenly the Senate has to clear a 60-vote threshold.

Every issue you may care about will likely be held hostage by the filibuster. If we reform Senate rules we have a real chance at: voting rights and campaign finance reform; immigration reform; gun safety; raising the minimum wage. action on climate change; and police accountability and racial justice.

Our senators must end the filibuster – and do the job that we, their constituents, sent them to Washington to do: legislate.

Julie Avrutine | Philadelphia


Keep broadband ball rolling

In Harrisburg, policymakers tend to get easily sidetracked to focus on issues demanding immediate attention. This often means the overshadowing of existing priorities.

The Pennsylvania State Grange’s top legislative priority continues to be broadband because of its critical importance. 

Specifically, we urge:

  • Funding the new Broadband Authority in the state budget. 
  • Taking the Governor’s Office of Broadband Initiatives, established several years ago, and giving it a line-item in the state budget. It was never funded.
  • Doing an inventory of state-owned structures in rural areas to see which might be suitable for a technological “piggyback” to expand fixed broadband (Internet through a link to a stationary source).
  • Seeing how much of the federal COVID stimulus money PA has already received and dedicate some of that for broadband.
  • Standardizing installation requirements for small cell facilities that expand high-speed broadband in neighborhoods that do not have access now.
  • Making it easier for smaller communities (municipal authorities) to become their own internet service providers if the telecommunication companies are too slow in reaching out to them.
  • Reducing regulatory requirements for rural telephone companies that now restrict their expansion of broadband services.

Wayne Campbell | President, Pennsylvania State Grange

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