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WESA Daily Briefing: September 9, 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.


5:09 p.m. - County to open free testing facility in McKeesport

Allegheny County will open a new free COVID-19 testing facility in McKeesport next week. 

“We’ve heard that residents in the Mon Valley didn’t feel they had adequate access to testing and we hope this site addresses that concern,” said Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen at a Wednesday press conference.

Testing at the drive thru site will start on Tuesday, and appointments are required. Tests are limited to individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, people have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, or those who work in health care or other critical roles. Insurance is not required.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald also weighed-in on the increase in young people testing positive in the county—on Wednesday, the median age for the 68 positive COVID-19 tests was 21 years old.

Fitzgerald said the increase is not a surprise: “It’s probably something we expected as 85,000 college students head back to class, along with school activities, sports, extracurricular activities at the school level.”

The University of Pittsburgh reported that 128 students have tested positive since August first; 20 students at Carnegie Mellon University also tested positive during that period.

4:44 p.m. - Advocates push for undocumented people to get licenses in PA

Immigrant advocates are promoting a new proposal to allow undocumented people to get driver’s licenses in Pennsylvania.

Fifteen states allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses in the U.S.

But the coalition of groups called Driving PA forward wants Pennsylvania to emulate states like New York and New Jersey, which also include privacy protections.

Citing a new report by the groups, the ACLU of Pennsylvania’s Marianne Stein says personal information shared with PennDOT is currently available to private companies and federal agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Because licenses and ID cards are so embedded in the lives of Pennsylvanians, this failure not only undermines the trust in our government, but also serves as a barrier to accessing necessary government services,” Stein said.

State House Bill 28-35 would bar PennDOT from sharing information without a warrant and allow undocumented immigrants to apply for using the ID number they use to pay federal taxes, as they could until 2002.

The proposal has little chance of making it through the GOP-controlled legislature.

3:46 p.m. - Steelers' Ryan Shazier to retire

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier has announced his retirement nearly three years after a spinal injury put his career on indefinite hold. Shazier required spine stabilization surgery after getting hurt in Cincinnati in December 2017.

The two-time Pro Bowler became a source of inspiration during his rehab as he learned to walk again. The team placed him on the reserved/retired list during the offseason. The 28-year-old says he still loves football but is ready to begin the next chapter of his life

12:57 p.m. – Latest COVID numbers

The Allegheny County Department of Health reported 68 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the result of 663 tests. Those infected range in age from 1 to 97 years old. The county also reported nine new deaths, which occurred Aug. 20 – Sept. 7. Those who died were in their 70s, 80s and 90s. Seven of those deaths were related to long-term care facilities.

Statewide, the total number of cases increased by 931 to 141,290. The number of deaths increased by 14, bringing the total to 7,805.  

9:43 a.m. - More than 100 Pitt students have tested positive for COVID since Aug. 1

Officials say 128 students at the University of Pittsburgh have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 1 and 78 students are currently in isolation after testing positive. Additionally, 11 faculty and staff members have tested positive during the same period. Pitt’s fall classes started remotely in August, but some classes will move to in-person beginning on Monday. 

8:49 a.m. - Poll shows Biden with 9-point lead over Trump

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holds a 9-point lead over President Trump among likely voters in Pennsylvania, according to an NBC News/Marist poll released this morning. Biden leads Trump by nearly 20 points among suburban voters - a group that Trump won by about 8 points in 2016. According to the poll, voters prefer Biden over Trump on race relations and response to the pandemic but give the edge to the president on the economy. The two are tied on crime issues.  The poll's margin of error is about 4-and-a-half percent.  

7:40 a.m. - PPS restores remote learning after outage

Students at Pittsburgh Public Schools who missed classes yesterday due to internet outages and other service disruptions will not be penalized, according to the district.  Officials say they've restored remote-learning systems that were down for about two hours.  Tuesday was the first day of the fall term - the district is offering online-only learning for at least the first nine weeks of the school year due to the pandemic.