😎 Hi, Thursday!

  • Clear and beautiful. Sunny skies and a high of 70.

Today's newsletter is 874 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: "Tranq" overtaking Philly's opioid supply

Photo illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Photos: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Philadelphia was once known for having the "purest heroin in the nation," city health officials say, but now its opioid supply has been overtaken by an animal tranquilizer linked to thousands of drug overdoses across the nation.

Why it matters: Xylazine, known on the streets as "tranq," can be lethal, when mixed with heroin or fentanyl, and causes nasty wounds and sores that can result in amputations.

  • Some are injecting the drug unwittingly, while others seek out the sedative to lengthen the high of traditional opioids, health officials told Axios.
  • Typically used for large animals, such as horses, xylazine is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for human consumption. Overdose reversal drugs such as naloxone won't halt its effects.

Between the lines: Advocates say open sores and wounds can delay people from getting addiction treatment because many rehab facilities won't accept anyone with untreated lesions for fear of spreading infectious diseases.

  • "We've been jumping up and down about it for a year," said Adam Al-Assad of Savage Sisters, which has been out in force at McPherson Park treating wounds at pop-up clinics. "There's only so many people listening."

State of play: First detected on city streets about a decade ago, xylazine went dormant for years before making a vicious comeback.

  • The drug was first detected in fewer than 2% of the city's fatal overdoses between 2010 and 2015, but that number rose to about 31% in 2019, said a report from Philadelphia Department of Public Health researchers.
  • It's now showing up in about 93% of 625 dope samples tested since November 2020, epidemiologists Jewell Johnson and Jennifer Shinefeld told Axios.

The big picture: Kensington, the epicenter of the city's opioid crisis, is considered the hub of the xylazine boom.

Keep reading

2. Police search for motive in school shooting

An investigator on Wednesday works the scene where people were shot near Roxborough High School a day earlier. Photo: Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Philadelphia authorities are seeking the public's help in their investigation into the shooting outside Roxborough High School that killed a football player after a scrimmage on Tuesday.

The latest: Five shooters, all believed to be juveniles, opened fire on a group of teenagers as they attempted to walk to the school's locker room around 4:30pm, unleashing more than 60 bullets, police said at a news conference on Wednesday.

  • Officers think at least one of the victims was targeted in the shooting, according to deputy commissioner Frank Vanore.
  • But Police Capt. Jason Smith said he believed that 14-year-old Nicholas Elizalde, fatally shot in the chest, was not the intended target.

Zoom in: No arrests have been made and police have yet to determine a motive.

  • A reward of at least $45,000 is being offered for anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

Keep reading

3. News Market

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

👁️ Former City Council member Cherelle Parker became a Harrisburg lobbyist less than two weeks after she resigned her seat to run in next year's mayoral race. She'll step down from the role if elected mayor, her campaign says. (Inquirer)

🚨 Police have arrested two people, including a 17-year-old, in the shooting death of Philadelphia rapper PnB Rock at a Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles restaurant in South Los Angeles earlier this month. (6ABC)

🏪 A Wawa convenience store in Roxborough closes for an hour each afternoon to avoid potential problems with high-school students. The store made the decision after footage emerged of dozens of teens ransacking another Wawa in Northeast Philly. (Philly Mag)

🏠 Bidding wars for homes in Philadelphia increased over the last year, the only major housing market in the U.S. where that trend held true. (Philadelphia Business Journal)

4. Look at this library re-do

Before and after the paint refresh at Henry H. Houston's library. Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani, courtesy of Apartment Therapy

👋 Alexa here. My home improvement show binging has taught me that a bit of paint can do wonders.

So it was heartwarming to see how an elementary school in Northwest Philly was recently transformed, thanks to locals who nominated its library for a paint makeover giveaway.

What's happening: Henry H. Houston School in Mt. Airy was among a select group of community spaces across the U.S. to undergo an overhaul as part of the Paint It Forward initiative from design website Apartment Therapy and paint brand Benjamin Moore.

Why it matters: For school principal LeRoy Hall, the makeover reminds students the school cares about them. He says the new space can help foster a healthy, productive learning environment.

  • "Having students back in the library will re-invigorate the community to donate books and volunteer time," Hall told Axios in a statement. "The library figuratively and literally connects local residents across generational, racial, and socioeconomic lines."

Go deeper

A new career is waiting for you

💼 Check out who’s hiring now.

  1. Events Manager, Research Development at Drexel University.
  2. Internal Communications Specialist at Ecolab.
  3. Director, Purchasing at Arctic Glacier Premium Ice.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a Job.

5. 🦅 1 power ranking to go: Week 4

Table: Axios Visuals
Table: Axios Visuals

The Eagles are (again!) climbing Axios Sports' NFL power rankings, one of two teams that remain undefeated this season.

The big picture: This is just the second season this century with only two 3-0 teams after Week 3 (2017).

What's next: The Eagles take on the Jacksonville Jaguars at 1pm on Sunday.

🏈 Sign up for Axios Sports

Our picks:

🤔 Isaac thinks John Fetterman's sweater swag is getting campy.

📺 Mike is binging the first season of "Abbot Elementary" to catch up with everyone else.

🙏 Alexa is thinking about her family and friends down in Florida.

Today's newsletter was edited by Alexa Mencia and Kristen Hinman.