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WESA Daily Briefing: September 14, 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.



4:48 p.m. — Steelers will remember Antwon Rose, Jr. this season

The Pittsburgh Steelers will wear Antwon Rose, Jr.’s name on the back of their helmets through the 2020 NFL season. Rose was a Black 17-year-old who was shot and killed by an East Pittsburgh police officer in June 2018. His death was followed by weeks of protests against police brutality in the Pittsburgh area.

The Steelers made the decision after the NFL announced it would allow players to wear the names of victims of racial injustice on their helmets as a form of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The Steelers begin their season tonight when they visit the New York Giants.

3:18 p.m. — PPS meal site temporarily closed

One of the 27 meal distribution sites for Pittsburgh Public School students is closed until Wednesday. The district was notified Monday that a staff member at Pittsburgh Mifflin tested positive for COVID-19. 

The building will now be deep cleaned.  Combined breakfast and lunch meals are available daily at the sites while students learn remotely for the first nine weeks of the year. Mifflin families are encouraged to pick up food at Greenfield or Carrick.

2:43 p.m — Post-Gazette newsroom getting closer to a strike

Unionized workers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are one step closer to going on strike. The national union’s executive council approved the strike last week and announced it publicly Monday, nearly a month after Pittsburgh employees voted overwhelmingly to do so. The council cited abusive working conditions and a “despicable pattern of hostile treatment” by the company’s owners. Now the union must present a strike plan to the national executive board for final approval.

2:01 p.m. -  McKeesport COVID-19 testing site opens Tuesday

A new drive-up site in McKeesport’s RIDC Park has the capacity to test up to 250 people per day for COVID-19.

Patients are encouraged to pre-register for the self-administered tests through the Allegheny County Health Department website. Once they’ve arrived, they’ll wait until they’re called up by medical workers, verify their identity and take an oral swab test. Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen says the timing of the site’s opening is ideal.

“We had a surge early in April, another surge in July,” Bogen said. “Of course with back to school, people are very concerned and want to get tested, so we’re making sure anyone who needs to get tested can do so.”

Pennsylvania state Rep. Austin Davis serves the Mon Valley and said the new site will benefit the community, especially minority populations.

“We want to make sure the people who live in these communities, who often struggle with health access, have access to the testing that they need during this pandemic,” Davis said.

Results are expected to take about 48 hours. People can begin to set appointments immediately. The site is open weekdays from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA

1:08 p.m. - Tens of thousands of migrating birds expected to canvas skies over the Pittsburgh area tonight

Scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Colorado State University are using weather radar to send out “BirdCast Alerts.”  The forecasters say as many as 50,000 birds per square mile are headed to this area.  September is peak migration time for birds flying south for the winter

Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA

12:15 p.m. - Pennsylvania reports 1,258 additional positive COVID-19 cases Sunday and Monday

The state Department of Health said there were 638 new cases reported on Sunday and 620 today. Pennsylvania's total is now 145,063. Philadelphia's cases were not included in the statewide total due to ongoing delays. 

There were no new deaths reported on Sunday, however there were seven on Monday.  

11:30 a.m. - Pittsburgh employment report shows overall decrease in unemployment from April to July

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development issued the report. Analyst Jim Futrell told WESA’s The Confluence that while construction sector has recovered well, many industries are still struggling because of low confidence in the economy.

“A lot of it is how you feel... the economic security of people you know,” Futrell said. “If you have friends or family that are struggling with unemployment, you aren’t going to have a lot of confidence in the economy.”

Futrell says that once people start to see recovery-- such as the widespread distribution of vaccines—they are going to be more willing to go out and spend money. However he says sectors like the airline industry and tourism may take longer to recover.

11:23 a.m. - Allegheny County reports 142 COVID-19 cases over two days

The Health Department said out of 1,491 tests, 142 were positive. The median age of new cases is 27 years old. No new deaths were reported.

6:28 a.m. - More classes at the University of Pittsburgh can begin meeting in-person starting today

About 90 percent of classes have been remote since the fall semester began in late August. Faculty and students will be allowed to continue teaching and studying remotely if they want to. A total of 163 students at Pitt have tested positive for COVID-19 since August 1st.

In a release, Dr. John Williams of Pitt's School of Medicine, said "The biggest chunk of positive cases that we’re seeing right now is related to unmasked activity and symptomatic students living off campus."

6:25 a.m. - Steelers take on Giants for first game of 2020

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisburger takes the field tonight for the first time in a year, as the Steelers open the 2020 season against the N.Y. Giants at Met Life Stadium.  The Steelers held a shortened training camp this year and played no pre-season games due to the pandemic.  NFL players, coaches, and other staff are undergoing daily coronavirus testing.

Kick off happens at 7:10 p.m. Roethlisberger was sidelined for most of last season with right elbow injury.

6:14 a.m. - Sunoco ordered to re-route one of its Mariner East pipelines

The reroute must be away from a site in Chester County where it spilled thousands of  gallons of drilling fluid, the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection said.

In Uwchlan Township, Chester County, as Sunoco was drilling the pipeline last month more than 8,000 gallons of drilling mud from the Mariner East 2 project spilled into a stream that feeds Marsh Creek Lake.  The work also caused a 15-foot sinkhole.

The DEP ordered Sunoco to reroute 1 mile of the pipeline.

“These incidents are yet another instance where Sunoco has blatantly disregarded the citizens and resources of Chester County with careless actions while installing the Mariner East II Pipeline,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonell, in a statement.

This is the first time the DEP has ordered the company to change its route, even though it has encountered a series of problems during construction.

Sunoco issued a statement saying it is reviewing the DEP's order and that "our first priority remains the safe completion and then operation of this important infrastructure project."

6:10 a.m. - What you missed over the weekend

  • Black, Young and Educated held their final "Civil Saturdays" in the East End. For 16 weeks, the group has staged demonstrations with a mission to change the state's police use of force law.
  • Pittsburgh scored on each of its first six possessions as the Panthers raced to a 55-0 victory over Austin Peay.  With Pittsburgh up 42-0 halftime, the teams agreed to play 10-minute quarters in the second half. Seven Panthers players were held out of the game due to COVID-19 protocol. Kenny Pickett accounted for two touchdowns and threw to seven receivers. Six players scored touchdowns during the Panthers’ offensive explosion. 

Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Giuseppe Bagheera, a protest organizer for Black, Young, and Educated, speaks to the crowd at the final Civil Saturdays on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.

Election night results for Pennsylvania governor, the U.S. Senate race, and the 12th and 17th congressional districts.