WEATHER: Philadelphia: mostly sunny, high of 43; Harrisburg: partly cloudy, high of 40; Pittsburgh: cloudy, high of 33.
NEW THIS MORNING:
* With Donald Trump out of the White House, Pennsylvania’s Republican Party shows no sign of walking away from a president who lost control of Congress, carried out an unprecedented campaign to overturn an election and is blamed by some in his party for inciting a violent assault on the country’s democracy. Save for two notable exceptions, Pennsylvania’s top Republican politicians stayed loyal to Trump as he tried to undo his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state and refused blame for the siege of the U.S. Capitol, the AP reports.
* The House State Government Committee held a lengthy hearing Thursday to discuss possible changes to election laws. Republican lawmakers grilled the state’s top election officials – Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and Deputy Secretary for Elections and Commissions Jonathan Marks, PennLive reports.
* Pennsylvania has surpassed 20,000 deaths from the coronavirus, the state Department of Health reported Thursday. The department said another 260 people died from the virus, pushing the total past 20,120, the AP reports.
* Some of Pennsylvania’s largest health systems are delivering a reality check after the state greatly expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine this week, pointing out there’s not nearly enough supply to meet surging demand, the AP reports.
* City students urgently need to be back in classrooms as soon as it’s safe, Mayor Jim Kenney and members of City Council told Philadelphia’s school board and Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. on Thursday, the Inquirer reports.
* As police investigated the shooting of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee headquarters in Norristown, county officials on Thursday condemned the violence as an attack on democracy and party leaders said they would not stop their work, the Inquirer reports.
* Chester County will adopt sweeping changes to the way it purchases products and services in the wake of a failed COVID-19 antibody testing program that is now the subject of an $11 million county lawsuit against Advaite, the unproven local company that developed the product, the Inquirer reports.
* The state Department of Corrections has doubled down on its policy not to always inform families of inmates who are sickened or killed by the coronavirus, saying it’s the responsibility of inmates to ensure their emergency contacts are complete and accurate, Spotlight PA reports.
* The Philadelphia home of Pennsylvania Banking and Securities Secretary Richard Vague, a prominent Philadelphia venture capital investor, was visited by federal agents Thursday morning over a cyberstalking case involving his 20-year-old stepson. According to an affidavit unsealed in the U.S. Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Fordham University student Mikael Laferla – also known as Mikael Zarett – is alleged to have used social media “to obtain nude or partially clothed pictures” of an unnamed minor in suburban Lower Moreland Township in 2018. Laferla is the son of Vague’s second wife, Laura Laferla, WHYY reports.
* The Inquirer urges Gov. Tom Wolf to do whatever is necessary to bring down the coronavirus death rate in state prisons, which is now exceeding one per day.
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KICKER: “I don’t think you can just walk away from Trump.” – Tom McGarrigle, the GOP chairman of Delaware County. From the AP.