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Good morning. The Pennsylvania Department of Health is reporting that the percentage of state residents age 18 and older who have been fully vaccinated is inching closer to 60% with a little over three weeks remaining in Gov. Tom Wolf's masking order. The state needs to reach 70% to win his challenge to lift the mask requirements for unvaccinated residents early. If not, the restrictions won't end until June 28 -- just in time for July 4.
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Plan your weekend. It's First Friday


It's going to be the first, somewhat normal First Friday since the Covide-19 pandemic shut down much of Pennsylvania's social life in March 2020.
  • Cities across Central Pennsylvania are planning a range of First Friday events, including live music in Lancaster and a free showing of the film “Kung Fu Panda” at the Appell Center for the Performing Arts in York.
  • “We’re definitely going to see a big ramp up on First Friday,” said Todd Fogdall, president and CEO of the York venue, which has a movie theater and performing arts center. 

What else is going on: Lots. York's First Friday event, sponsored by Wellspan Health, is held largely in downtown and will include a ballet performance, live music and a local graffiti artist. For a full list of events, go here
  • Efforts to reach officials at The Fulton in Lancaster County and Whitaker Center in Harrisburg were unsuccessful. But their websites also outline a slate of activities.
  • Go to thefulton.org for more about the events there.
  • Information on The Whitaker can be found at whitakercenter.org.


What about safety: Fogdall said the Appell Center will be holding events through the summer, adjusting rules as it goes along. But as seating and other restrictions are lifted, the center will continue to use the cleaning protocols it adopted during the pandemic. That should further assure workers, artists and patrons of their health and safety.

  • For example, staff members likely will continue to wear masks after restrictions are lifted for patrons. For now, patrons will be asked to wear masks until they take their seats. 
  • But the center is pleased to focus on the future. “We are looking forward to running our shows and serving our community in ways that we are accustomed,” Fogdall said. 


Quick takes



WHO'S UPPING THEIR GAME: The Soniqs. The professional esports organization based in Harrisburg intends to open a storefront this fall at 21 S. 3rd St., where the team has an office in the capital city. Dubbed the LAN Center, the space will include gaming set-ups, a retail space and spectator seating for esports events. LAN is esports slang for a spot where people can be on the same network, according to a Soniqs spokesperson, who declined to share other details about the center.
 
  • The LAN Center will be available for public use, allowing people throughout Central Pennsylvania to participate in gaming and esports activities.
  • It also will be used as a learning facility, with workshops and other events for the public.
  • Patrons will be able to participate in tournaments, engage in casual play with peers and view games as spectators from within the LAN Center. 
  • “It has always been a goal of ours to bring esports to everyone,” Darren Moore, general manager of the Soniqs, said in a press release. “With this LAN center, we will achieve this goal — being a place for anyone to come play, learn and provide a home for local fans to watch our games.”

The background:  Founded in 2018, the Soniqs have fielded championship-winning teams in video games called Rainbow 6 Siege, PUBG, Rocket League and Valorant.
  • The team's initial backers include Select Medical executive Robert Ortenzio.
  • The team recently inked a deal with an esports marketing firm called Pivot Agency, whose other clients include teams in Chicago and San Francisco. 
 


WHO'S HIRING: Saxton & Stump. The Lancaster law firm has hired a managing director to oversee growth of its marketing subsidiary, Granite Creative Group. Andrew Shaw joins Granite after a stint at Harrisburg-based design firm andculture.
  • Saxton & Stump started the agency in October 2019 to serve the law firm's existing clients, some of whom were interested in "borrowing" its marketing team, said law firm spokesperson Jenna Wagner.
  • The agency has been finding its own clients through word of mouth but plans to grow the business even more under Shaw's leadership, Wagner said.
 


WHAT FELL: Operating margins for hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, also known as PHC4. 
  • The statewide operating margin decreased 1.89 percentage points -- from 5.61% in fiscal year 2019 to 3.73% in fiscal year 2020. 
  • The total margins realized by the hospitals in Pennsylvania decreased by 2.7 percentage points -- from 6.63% in fiscal year 2019  to 3.93% in fiscal year 2020.
  • Hospitals generally missed out on surgeries and other procedures last year as people put off care during the pandemic.

What's next: “Many hospitals will face serious financial challenges as Pennsylvania works to mitigate the fiscal impact of the epidemic," said Joe Martin, executive director for PHC4.
  • The operating margin represents revenue received for patient care minus related expenses.
  • The total margin includes the operating margin plus revenue and expenses for all other facets of the acute care hospital activity.
  • Revenue included in total margin would also factor in investment income, endowments, charitable contributions, and other revenue not directly related to patient care, according to the report.

About the report: PHC4 is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information about the cost and quality of health care in Pennsylvania.
  • Copies of Financial Analysis 2020, Volume One are available at www.phc4.org.

 
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Compiled and written by Joel Berg

 
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