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WESA Daily Briefing: September 17, 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.



1:08 p.m. - Pennsylvania court gives Democrats wins in mail-in vote case

Pennsylvania’s highest court is handing victories to the Democratic Party in an election-related lawsuit that sought favorable fixes to glitches and gray areas in the battleground state’s fledgling mail-in voting law.

The state Supreme Court, which has a 5-2 Democratic majority, on Thursday granted the Democratic Party’s request to order an extension of Pennsylvania’s Election Day-deadline to count mailed-in ballots for three days after Election Day.

It also authorized the use of satellite election offices and drop boxes, which Philadelphia and its heavily populated suburbs are planning to use help relieve the pressure from an avalanche of mailed-in ballots expected in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

11:53 a.m. - Allegheny County reports 83 new COVID-19 cases

Health officials say the new cases were out of 1,226 tests. There were three new deaths, the Health Department said. One individual was in their 60s and the other two were in their 70s. The median age of new cases is 38.

Statewide, there were 933 additional cases, bringing Pennsylvania's total to 147,923.

8:33 a.m. - Some unemployment assistance to be distributed this week

Pennsylvanians who qualified for FEMA’s Lost Wages Assistance Program should begin to receive checks for an additional $300 per week starting this week. The program was initially set to run through December, or until the fund ran out, but instead will only cover recipients for six weeks.

State Secretary of Labor and Industry, Jerry Oleksiak said federal lawmakers need to pass an extension of the CARES Act to provide additional funding to get through the pandemic.

“A lot of this is federal dollars,” Oleksiak said. “The CARES act will be coming to an end at the calendar year and that’s where the help needs to come from.”

Oleksiak says those who are eligible for the added benefit should apply as soon as possible.

7:45 a.m.  - City invests $72,000 in Beltzhoover Elementary School Revitalization Project


The City of Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority is investing $72,000 in a community-driven improvement revitalizing the Beltzhoover Elementary School.  Mayor Bill Peduto and other city officials presented the investment to the Beltzhoover Consensus Group with the intention to redevelop the former school into a community center. 


"We are witnessing the rebirth of the Beltzhoover School which has stood for generations as an important anchor for Betlzhoover and Hilltop residents alike,” said Councilman Bruce Kraus, who represents Beltzhoover on the City Council. “This begins the process of restoring this historic landmark to its well-deserved glory." 


Beltzhoover is one of 12 neighborhood improvement projects granted funding from the Neighborhood Initiatives Fund.  The fund is designed to help unlock the economic opportunity and place making potential within neighborhoods.  


7:17 a.m. - City of Asylum names new executive director

Andrés Franco is currently Resident Conductor at Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.  He is a native of Colombia and has conducted orchestras around the world.  Franco takes the helm at City of Asylum starting October 1.