What You Need to Know: Looser mask mandates, shots for kids, and the Bethlehem mayoral candidate debate

Written by on May 14, 2021

What You Need To Know: CDC Guidance leads to loosening of Pa. Masking Mandate, Vaccines for teens, Thursday’s Bethlehem Mayoral Debate

By Brad Klein and Jen Rehill

May 14, 2021

Photo | Michele Abercrombie/NPR

In our regular Friday feature, “What You Need to Know,” WLVR’s Brad Klein speaks with News Director Jen Rehill about the week’s top local news. This week: Pennsylvania has adopted the looser mask mandate following the CDC’s guidance this week. The unvaccinated must still wear masks for now, but those who’ve had ‘the jab’ can now go without under most circumstances. And a review of Thursday’s debate among the two Democratic candidates for mayor of Bethlehem, ahead of Tuesday’s municipal primary election. The debate remains available to watch on the PBS39 web site, and on the WLVR Facebook page

Listen to the story

Brad Klein

“Hi Jen.”

Jen Rehill

“Good morning, Brad.” 

Klein

“Starting up, we can’t not mention the momentous change yesterday in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. If you’ve been vaccinated, basically, no need to wear a mask. And Pennsylvania’s guidelines are based on those coming from the CDC, right?”

Rehill

“Boy, you’ve got that right. And what a change that is. Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Health did issue a statement on the heels of the CDC statement on May 13 saying that CDC guidelines automatically go into effect in Pennsylvania. Now that said, for folks who haven’t been vaccinated, the masking requirement remains in place until 70% of Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated. That number is hovering around 47%. 

“And we had another really big piece of news on the COVID-19 front this week: Kids 12 -15 being able to get the vaccine that was approved this week. Shots have already started here in the Lehigh Valley, St. Luke’s and LVHN rolled out shots almost immediately.” 

Klein

“It’s amazing each group how fast that swung into action. Now kids aged 12 and over can get vaccinated.

“May 18 is the municipal primary election and, of course, last night you co-hosted a debate between the two Democratic candidates for mayor of Bethlehem. What do you think were among the most fruitful topics last night in that debate?” 

Rehill

“You know, Brad, it was just great to get to spend some time with city council member William Reynolds and former city administrator turned photographer Dana Grubb, they’re the two Democrats on the ballot for the Bethlehem mayor’s office. Mayor Bob Donchez can’t run again, he’s term-limited. And the Republican in the race, John Kachmar, doesn’t have a primary opponent. Some of the things that we touched on included their experience. Reynolds is a city council member. Grubb had a long history working in city administration and worked on things like SteelStacks and the Hoover-Mason  Trestle and ArtsQuest. So those are some interesting things. Other things we touched on included racial justice and they both have really robust climate plans for this city and affordable housing and homelessness.”

Klein

“It was so illuminating, if you’re trying to ponder your decision and your vote coming up on May 18. Was there one particular moment that stood out to you?” 

Rehill

“I thought one thing that happened close to the top of the debate was a conversation about police reform and reflecting on the protests that happened last year with Black Lives Matter. Both candidates said no, though, when they asked whether the city should defund the police, as some activists have called for. I think we have a cut from Mr. Grubb to play:

Dana Grubb

“The provision of support services where they may be needed — Children and youth, drug and alcohol, mental health — would go a long way to assisting police.” 

Rehill

And then Mr. Reynolds said he really supported a community police approach:

William Reynolds

“Our community should absolutely have the ability to interact with our police officers and city hall in non-confrontational ways.” 

Rehill

“You know, two different approaches to that topic, Brad.” 

Klein

“Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, it was a sort of a subtle disagreement, I would say. I mean, subtle nuance. We have just about a minute to go. I was also impressed by just the power of the integration of PBS39  and the Facebook live feed. So you had the video features available, you could really see the candidates. You’ve got a lot of nuances there from the debates, having produced a lot of radio programs. And it can be confusing when you have only voices to go on. It helps a lot having the body language as well.

“Thanks so much for joining us, Jen.”

Rehill

“Thank you, Brad.” 

Klein

“That’s Jen Rehill, news director here at WLVR. For more of ‘What You Need to Know,’ sign up for our weekly newsletter at WLVR.org. 
“And if you didn’t catch the debate last night, it remains available to watch on the PBS39 website and on the WLVR Facebook page and it will help you cast an informed primary vote on May 18.”

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