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WESA Daily Briefing: June 17, 2020

Erin Keane Scott
90.5 WESA

News on the coronavirus pandemic, protests, 2020 election and more from around Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and southwestern Pennsylvania. 

Find all of the WESA Daily Briefing posts here

Editor's note: This post will be frequently updated with the latest news.


5:51 p.m. - CDC recommends testing asymptomatic people for COVID-19, including protest attendees

This recommendation is a stark contrast from the spring when many symptomatic people were being turned away from testing because they didn’t meet rigid guidelines.

Now even if you don’t have symptoms its suggested that you get tested if you’ve been exposed to the virus. This includes people who live with a COVID-19 patient, people who have been within six feet of someone with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer and those who have been in large crowds.

Dr. Debra Bogen, head of the Allegheny County health department, says this includes people who’ve attended marches, protests or rallies.

“You should be tested about a week after that potential exposure,” Bogen said. “Testing too soon can create false negative results.”

Asymptomatic patients can get tested at some Ride Aids and Med-Express locations, as well as the county’s federally qualified health centers.

5:09 p.m. - Antwon Rose's mom says she was in D.C., but didn't meet with Trump

Michelle Kenney, the mother of Antwon Rose Jr., the 17-year-old black teenager killed by a white East Pittsburgh police officer in 2018, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette she traveled to Washington D.C. earlier this week to meet with U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R.-S.C., about a package of police reform bills.

Later that day, President Donald Trump claimed he had met with Kenney and other families impacted by police brutality. In a Facebook post, Kenney refuted her attendance.

Credit Screenshot

Read the full article.

4:37 p.m. - Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announces new police reform task force

The 17 members of the task force will review police practices and community relations. It will make recommendations to the mayor by the fall.

City council is also weighing reforms. Councilor Daniel Lavelle said the city needs a better understanding of concepts like defunding the police.

"One of our challenges moving forward will be the definition, and how we actually define terms that we're going to be using," Lavelle said. "So when you say 'defund the police,' what does that actually mean?"

Some activists want to reduce police funding to spend money on community needs instead.

2:30 p.m. - New bacteria-repelling textile coating could make PPE last longer 

The need for masks, gowns, and other personal protective equipment for health care workers and those on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak has soared over the last few months, leading to shortages across the country. When the masks and gowns are reused, the textiles used to make them can absorb and carry viruses and bacteria resulting in the spread of the very diseases the wearer was trying to contain.

Paul Leu, an associate professor in Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, andAnthony Galante, a 4th year Ph.D. student in the same department are working on atextile coating that could help solve some of these problems that have been magnified by the coronavirus pandemic. Leu told The Confluence Wednesday that the coating repels liquids like blood and saliva, along with some viruses.

Listen to the segment here

1:42 p.m. - Biden to return to Pennsylvania

Joe Biden is returning to the battleground state of Pennsylvania as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee intensifies his criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, Biden was in Philadelphia to unveil a multifaceted plan he said would gradually reopen the economy, increasing growth while not putting business owners or consumers at unnecessary risk. The former vice president promised that, if elected, he would guarantee testing for the virus and protective equipment to guard against its spread for people called back to work. Biden’s Wednesday appearance is in Darby, near the Philadelphia airport and about half an hour’s drive from his home in Wilmington, Del.

11:50 a.m. – Allegheny County reports no new COVID cases

For the first time since March, the Allegheny County Health Department reported no new COVID-19 cases. The total remains at 2,113. The number of deaths increased by three to 177.

Health officials point out that today’s report “does not reflect the real-time spread of the coronavirus in Allegheny County. It often takes 2 to 3 days for labs to report new positive cases. We continue to have COVID-related deaths and hospitalizations in our county. The risk of infection has not subsided, and we must continue to take steps like keeping 6 feet from others, wearing masks, washing hands and staying home if we’re sick.”  

9:45 a.m. - YWCA to sell downtown building

YWCA's 88,000-square-foot building, opened in 1962, has been listed on the market. This move is part of YWCA's effort to work towards their mission of eliminating racism and empowering women.

Prior to the Coronavirus quarantine, which forced YWCA to work remotely, only 22 people worked downtown, where YWCA occupied a small portion of the seven-story building. At its height, approximately 130 people worked in the office. The plans to sell the building were in place ahead of the shutdown. Savings from the building operations will help fund racial justice initiatives.

CEO Angela Reynolds said that YWCA will focus its lens on, “race and gender equity and working collaboratively with strategic partners to truly make a difference in peoples' lives.”

YWCA's Center for Racial and Gender Equity will offer ongoing anti-racism and racial justice training, and will be hosting monthly conversations on racial justice with local leaders.  

7:33 a.m. - PA sees third straight day of less than 400 COVID cases

State data shows Pennsylvania has recorded a third straight day of under 400 new positive coronavirus tests, the longest such stretch since new cases began regularly exceeding that level in late March. Still, the number of people dying from it daily remains in the dozens. Officials on Tuesday reported 33 additional deaths and 362 new positive cases. That brings Pennsylvania's totals to nearly 80,000 cases and 6,276 deaths since early March. Of those, 75% have recovered. The number of infections is thought to be far higher than the state’s confirmed case count because many people haven't been tested and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.