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WESA Daily Briefing: August 21, 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.



5:21 p.m. - Fall sports could be back on at high schools across Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association announced today that it would proceed with the season. The start of fall youth sports like football and soccer was pushed back for two weeks when the state  recommended scrapping the season until January due to risks associated with the spread of COVID-19. During that time, PIAA officials ultimately decided to proceed with the season under a list of guidelines.

WIPIAL schools, which make up the PIAA’s seventh district, will proceed too, with the blessing of the Allegheny County Health Department. The two announced that they could work around the County's 50-person gathering limit by grouping people at a sporting event into three pods. Coaches and players not on the field wearing masks and social distancing make up two of the pods, those engaged in competition comprise the third pod.

No spectators will be permitted at games and the total number of people at a facility cannot exceed 250. The final decision about playing, though, is up to each school district.

4:40 p.m. – Brighton Rehab reportedly didn’t cooperate with an audit this year

Pennsylvania’s Auditor General says the former managers of Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center refused to cooperate with his office earlier this year. Brighton is the site of the largest COVID-19 nursing home outbreak in the state. Back in February, the Beaver County facility was randomly selected for an audit to look at its delivery of Medicaid services. However, Brighton says it was told by the auditor's office in June that the inspection had been canceled due to the pandemic.

4:13 p.m. – Peduto announces police changes at protests

Mayor Bill Peduto announced on Friday that the city would have a new overseer for protests, following multiple confrontations between police and demonstrators. He also announced that there will be more positions for the civil affairs unit, and public safety community engagement. The positions will "make sure that responses to protest activity are balanced." Police will also be barred from wearing military-style camouflage uniforms, and plainclothes officers and unmarked vehicles will not be allowed during protest arrests. 

3:14 p.m. - Travelers lost about $900K at airport checkpoints last year

Travelers left behind nearly a million dollars at U.S. airport security checkpoints last year, including about $19,000 in foreign currency, a newspaper reported Friday.

A Transportation Security Administration report said travelers lost $926,000 at 75 airports in the year that ended in September, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Federal regulators say much of the lost money came from people emptying their pockets for security scans.

The paper says the largest sums were lost at airports in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Las Vegas and Dallas. At the newspaper's hometown Pittsburgh International Airport, travelers parted with $5,000 .

The Transportation Security Administration suggests putting cash into carry-on bags, and reminds travelers who have lost money that they can contact the TSA's lost-and-found office at the airport.


Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
A security checkpoint at Pittsburgh International Airport.

2:19 p.m. - Fixing PA mail-in vote glitches goes down to wire

With barely three weeks to go before counties can begin mailing out ballots, lawsuits are filling the vacuum of action to fix problems or ambiguities with Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting laws. Closed-door talks between Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration and lawmakers are showing more signs of disagreement than agreement in the shadow of a high-stakes presidential campaign in the premier battleground state. Nothing will pass without a bipartisan compromise, and lawmakers pin the first week of September as the latest that something should pass before the Nov. 3 election. Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa says talks are slow, as lawmakers wait to see if the courts will clear up issues where Republicans and Democrats disagree.

1:15 p.m. – Latest COVID numbers

Allegheny County reported 80 new COVID-19 cases Friday, the result of 1,397 cases taken Aug. 11-20. Those infected range in age from 1 to 98 years old. The county also reported six new deaths, four of which are related to long-term care facilities.

Statewide, the number of cases increased by 693 to 127,633. The state Department of Health also reported 20 new deaths.  

11:41 a.m. - PIAA to announce if high school sports will be played this fall

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association is expected to announce today whether or not high school sports will be played this fall. The season was already delayed by two weeks after Gov. Tom Wolf strongly recommended suspending high school sports until January due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, which represents the PIAA's 7th district, says it won't make any decisions until a full review of the PIAA’s announcement this afternoon.

WPIAL is expected to make an announcement Monday.  

8:16 a.m. - Food bank holding distribution today

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Foodbank is holding a food distribution today from noon to 2 p.m. at the Mt. Carmel Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Aliquippa.

Reservations are required.

And on Sunday the Foodbank and the non-profit Just Harvest are hosting this year's rescheduled Empty Bowls event from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. outside at the Pittsburgh Center for Arts and Media on 5th Avenue. 

Traffic in the area is expected to be congested during the event. Empty Bowls was postponed in March due to the pandemic.