WEATHER: Philadelphia: showers, high of 77; Harrisburg: showers, high of 82; Pittsburgh: cloudy, high of 83.
NEW THIS MORNING:
* As she leads the latest push to get Philadelphians and residents throughout the region to fill out the 2020 Census, which the federal government uses to count every person living in the country and to distribute hundreds of billions of dollars to state and local governments for services such as housing, health care, infrastructure, and schools, Stephanie Reid, executive director of Philly Counts, the city’s initiative to make sure residents are counted, said that because funding for recovery from the pandemic will be tied to new census data, “this census is more important than any recent census,” the Inquirer reports.
* When classes begin for 125,000 Philadelphia School District students Sept. 2, they will do so virtually. The school board Thursday night formally blessed Superintendent William R. Hite Jr.‘s back-to-school plan, meaning children will be out of classrooms until at least November because of fears of coronavirus spread, the Inquirer reports.
* In a statement shared on his state Facebook account on Wednesday, GOP Rep. Russ Diamond, who said he “pioneered” not wearing a mask, mockingly compared harassment of people who do not cover their faces to transphobic bigotry, describing a “spirit of intolerance and discrimination” directed at people who don’t wear face-masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just a day earlier, in a Tuesday address, state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine used the same words to call out a string of transphobic incidents against her, the Capital-Star reports.
* Wolf wants state House GOP leaders to formally reprimand Diamond, both for urging constituents to go maskless if they prefer it, and for a press release he issued that was widely seen as disrespecting Health Secretary Rachel Levine. Diamond has long chafed at Wolf’s pandemic emergency order, and has flaunted his choice to not wear a face mask in public, despite rising COVID-19 rates, WHYY reports.
* Vowing to bring “peace and security to cities across America,” Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday carried the Trump campaign's message of law and order to exurban Pennsylvania, a battleground state where Pence warned of a descent into chaos in big cities should presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden be elected, the AP reports.
* Come Monday at some county courthouses across the region, jurors will return after a months-long absence that stalled trials and put key facets of the criminal justice system on hold, the Inquirer reports.
* The Inquirer is heartened by Philadelphia City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart’s plan to review the city’s calamitous response to several days of protests and civil unrest sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: … belated birthday wishes to Philadelphia City Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr. (7/25) … PA Sen. Judith Schwank …PA Rep. Daniel Deasy (8/1) … PA Sen. John Blake (8/1) … Nathan Davidson, Floor Manager, Office of the Democratic Whip (8/2) … Want to wish someone a happy birthday in our newsletter? Email us their name, job title and upcoming birthday to firstname.lastname@example.org
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KICKER: “The truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden's America.” – Vice President Mike Pence brings the Southern Strategy north of the Mason-Dixon line. From the AP.