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WESA Daily Briefing: August 28, 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.



5:14 p.m. - Outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people will be allowed in Allegheny County starting Saturday

Health Department director Dr. Debra Bogen announced the change Friday afternoon, following a decrease in the county’s new cases of COVID 19 and a decline in the county’s positivity rate. Outdoor gatherings had been capped at 50 people, due to a surge in cases earlier this summer. The indoor cap of 25 people will continue.

3:17 p.m. - Wolf administration issues report on clean energy jobs

Clean energy jobs in Pennsylvania grew at a faster rate than overall jobs over the past few years...while the coal, natural gas, and nuclear industries saw job losses.

The Clean Energy Employment Report says the sector added almost 7,800 jobs between 2017 and 2019.

The growth rate was more than four times the statewide rate. It's the first time the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf has put out this report.

David Althoff, director of the Energy Programs Office, says the administration isn’t issuing a specific policy proposal--the point is to show job trends

“And that we have this for our use to hopefully guide job and workforce training investment,” Althoff said.

Clean energy only accounts for 1.5 percent of all jobs in Pennsylvania.

The coal, natural gas and nuclear industries account for less than one percent. Across those sectors, jobs fell by nearly 6 percent.

BW Research, which wrote the report, notes the data was collected before the COVID-19 pandemic started. It estimates tens of thousands of jobs have been lost since.

1:35 p.m. - Latest COVID numbers

Allegheny County reported 63 new COVID-19 cases Friday, the result of 1,605 tests taken Aug. 17-27. Those infected range in age from 7 months to 97 years. The county health department also reported seven new deaths.

Statewide, officials reported 835 new positive cases, bringing the total to 131,991. The state Department of Health also reported 20 new deaths.  

11:38 a.m. - Utility regulators leave moratorium on shutoffs in place

Pennsylvania state utility regulators have effectively extended a moratorium preventing utilities from terminating service to non-paying customers for three more weeks while the state fights the spread of the coronavirus. The four-member panel of two Democrats and two Republicans postponed a vote on Thursday’s agenda until Sept. 17, after deadlocking twice on motions to lift the moratorium over the summer. Meanwhile, Bloomsburg University is the latest Pennsylvania school to shift all instruction to remote learning. That's starting Monday after the school saw an outbreak of coronavirus cases. The state-owned school says students living on campus won't be required to leave residence halls.

Read more here.

8:11 a.m. - Wolf, Republicans at odds over election laws

Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican state lawmakers remain at odds over how to update Pennsylvania’s voting laws to handle an expected avalanche of mail-in ballots in November’s presidential election in the battleground state. Wolf, a Democrat, laid down several markers Thursday for what he is seeking. In part, Wolf called for lawmakers to allow counties to begin processing mail-in ballots three weeks before the election and to require them to count ballots that arrive up to three days after the Nov. 3 election. In the meantime, Philadelphia on Thursday accepted a $10 million grant to help it advance an ambitious election plan.