Sara Simon/Spotlight PA

Sara Simon is a software engineer turned investigative data reporter. She comes to Spotlight PA from the New York Times, where she built research tools to assist reporters in the newsroom. Her data work at the Times spanned desks and beats, from homicide convictions in opioid deaths to state-level abortion restrictions to contestant patterns throughout Miss America pageant history. Previously, Sara was a web developer at Vermont Public Radio. She studied English at Wellesley College before heading to the Turing School of Software and Design.

Latest by Sara Simon/Spotlight PA


Pa.’s failure to mandate quicker death reporting before the coronavirus fueled wild data fluctuations, mistrust

An investigation found state health officials abandoned their urgency in implementing a faster process, leaving them ill-prepared to accurately report death data when the pandemic arrived.

By Sara Simon/Spotlight PA, Ryan Briggs/WHYY and Nina Feldman/WHYY

Are antigen tests the silver bullet to Pa.‘s coronavirus testing delays? Not so fast.

Here's everything you need to know about the different coronavirus tests and what they can — and can't — tell you.
By Sara Simon/Spotlight PA

Penn State reverses course, plans to provide modified COVID-19 agreement for students

Some had criticized the university for forcing students to "assume any and all risk" of contracting the virus, which they said amounted to a liability waiver.
By Sara Simon/Spotlight PA

Updated: August 13, 2020 | 12:31 pm

Students at Penn State forced to sign COVID-19 liability waiver to participate in fall semester

Other universities across the country have required similar waivers, but students and legal experts say Penn State’s crosses the line.s

By Sara Simon/Spotlight PA

Pa. health secretary denounces transphobic attacks: ‘Our children are watching’

As the face of the state’s COVID-19 response, Health Secretary Rachel Levine has been the subject of numerous personal attacks.
By Sara Simon/Spotlight PA

Citing ‘overwhelming’ spread, Pa. moves to add staff, app to trace the coronavirus

There are currently 661 contact tracers across the state. The health department wants to add potentially thousands more.
By Aneri Pattani/Spotlight PA and Sara Simon/Spotlight PA

UPMC’s claim of ‘less severe’ coronavirus strain in Pa. is not supported by science

The health system said a recent study backed up its assertion. But the study itself contradicts UPMC’s own takeaways.
By Sara Simon/Spotlight PA

Health officials failed to safeguard trust in Pa.’s coronavirus data, sowing confusion

The pandemic posed a massive challenge for an underfunded public health system, but experts say officials failed to heed best practices when presenting the numbers.
By Sara Simon/Spotlight PA
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