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WESA Daily Briefing: September 11, 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.


6:10 p.m. - McKeesport COVID-19 testing site opens Tuesday

The drive-up site is located at 455 Industry Road and will open at 10 a.m. on Sept. 15. People must have an appointment to get a test and meet one of the following criteria:

• Have symptoms of COVID-19;

• Have been in contact with someone that has COVID-19;

• Work in a nursing home or long-term care facility;

• Are a critical infrastructure worker, health care worker, or first responder;

• Are a high-risk patient and have recently attended a gathering of 10 or more people; or

• Live in a shelter or single room occupancy.

Appointments can be set beginning Monday, Sept. 14; testing is limited to 250 people per day.

4:53 p.m. - First responders climb steps of state Capitol in honor of 9/11 workers

A few dozen emergency service workers and supporters climbed the steps of the State Capitol building today in honor of first responders who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

A fire truck raised a large American flag.

Several firefighters donned their full gear and repeatedly walked up and down the several flights of stairs.

Their goal? Nineteen-hundred-eighty steps, the same number emergency service workers climbed to reach people trapped in the World Trade Center 19 years ago. Four hundred fourteen first responders died that day.

A few firehouses in the state started the tribute a year ago. Hope Stuart, who helped organize this year's event, says she remembers the moment the first plane hit.

"And that moment changed all of our lives forever,” Stuart said. “So to be able to come together today and, again, remember and honor all of those lives is a great thing for us to be able to do."

The stair climb is one of several memorials held across the commonwealth.

Both President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden paid their respects at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville in Somerset County.

3:44 p.m. - Allegheny County has enough poll workers

Many Allegheny County residents have signed up to work the polls and vote by mail in the general election this fall.

The elections division needs at least 6,500 people to work the polls on Election Day. But because poll workers are often older and more vulnerable to the coronavirus, staffing the polls during the pandemic has been a major concern. But it won’t be a problem this fall. Officials say they have enough people to work on November 3, and even have a growing bench of volunteers in case they need backup.

But plenty of voters plan to vote by mail instead of in person. The Elections division reports that more than 200,000 people have already requested ballots, and thousands more applications are being processed. The county began sending out mail ballot applications to every registered voter in late August.

The elections division can start mailing official ballots as early as mid-September. Officials recommend that voters fill out and return ballots as soon as they can. You can find more information about voting by mail and registering to vote at

2:40 p.m. – Pennsylvania sets single-day record for COVID-19 tests reported

Pennsylvania reported 1,008 new COVID-19 cases statewide Friday, the result of a record-high 30,855 tests reported in a single day. Allegheny County health officials reported 100 new cases Friday, the result of 1,134 tests.  

The state reported 17 new deaths Friday. Allegheny County reported two new deaths.    

9:39 a.m. - Plumbers charged with falsifying records

Two Allegheny County plumbing inspectors are facing multiple felony charges over the alleged falsification of plumbing inspections.  Michael Kevin O'Toole and Timothy R. Chelosky were charged yesterday with tampering with public records or information.  Both men were taken to the Allegheny County Jail to await arraignment.  Detectives with the Allegheny County Police reviewed records and automated processes associated with these inspections, and conducted physical surveillance of the sites where inspections were to be taking place.

 8:01 a.m. - Trump and Biden to visit Flight 93 Memorial today

Americans are set to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks with tributes altered by the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden both plan to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania Friday, though not at the same time.

In New York, a dispute over coronavirus precautions is leading to separate remembrances.

The National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum cancelled its tradition of having relatives read the names of the dead aloud. It will offer a recording instead to those gathered at the World Trade Center site.

Some victims’ relatives felt the change robbed the observance of its emotional impact. A different 9/11 group, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, set up a simultaneous ceremony.

Vice President Mike Pence plans to attend both events. Biden will also attend the main New York observance before heading to Pennsylvania.