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WESA's Top Stories, May 28: Pa. Mask-Wearing Order Lifts In June, CMU Researchers Play With Pasta Shapes To Save Packaging, NPR's Morning Edition Gets A New Host

alison beam.jpeg
Commonwealth Media Services
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Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said the state is leaning on community-based organizations to reach more people of color.

Today's top stories on Pittsburgh, the state, and the world, from WESA, NPR, and public radio partners.

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1. Pennsylvania mask-wearing order to be lifted by end of June
The state order that had Pennsylvanians masking up for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be lifted at the latest by June 28, said Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam. WITF's Brett Sholtis reports if 70% of adults are fully vaccinated before that date, the state will end the mask mandate early.

Occupational mobility artwork from kids
Katie Blackley
Marquisha Robinson and two of her daughters look at artwork displayed on their kitchen fridge.

2. One option for reviving a shrinking middle class: value skills, not just education
The middle class has been shrinking for decades as income growth continues to favor top earners, while wages for people without a four-year college degree have fallen. An-Li Herring reports research suggests a way out of that downward cycle: assigning more value to workers’ skills than to their degrees.

3. Outgoing executive director reflects on a quarter-century at Pittsburgh's Contemporary Craft
The Contemporary Craft arts center turns 50 this year. And for nearly half of that time, its executive director Janet McCall has led the organization. Ahead of her retirement in June, Bill O’Driscoll sat down with McCall.

4. States tap federal aid to shore up empty unemployment funds
Governors and lawmakers in more than half the states are planning to use at least part of their federal pandemic relief money to bail out unemployment insurance trust funds drained by a surge in jobless claims caused by business closures and restrictions, according to an Associated Press review.

5. CMU researchers play with pasta shapes to save packaging
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are trying to solve a packaging problem that contributes to waste in landfills. And as Science Friday's Charles Bergquist reports, to do it, they're looking to create pasta that changes shape when you cook it.

6. Senate Republicans release $928 billion infrastructure counteroffer
The proposal outlines a significant increase from the most recent GOP plan to spend $568 billion. NPR's Kelsey Snell reports the new version includes additional money for roads, bridges, water, rail and airports, but the majority of the proposed spending is part of an existing baseline plan for investments.

Cubs Pirates Baseball
Gene J. Puskar
Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Will Craig, right, tosses the ball to catcher Michael Perez, left, after Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez (9) hit a fielder's choice third to first and was caught in a rundown between home and first during the third inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, May 27, 2021. Cub's Willson Contreras, top center, scores on the play and Báez reached second on an errant throw by Pirates' catcher Perez.

7. Wait what? Bizarre sequence helps Cubs top Pirates 5-3
Chicago Cubs' Javier Báez hit reverse and chaos ensued. The AP's Will Graves reports the series of events ultimately led to a "comedy of errors."

8. NPR names KPCC's A Martinez as new host for 'Morning Edition' and 'Up First'
NPR has named the fourth host for one of its defining shows, Morning Edition: A Martinez will become the network's newest voice at a time when it is trying to attract more Latino listeners. He comes from Southern California Public Radio, where he has been a leading presence for the past nine years, NPR's David Folkenflik reports.

9. Today is Wear Your Music T-shirt To Work Day
Our friends at WYEP are holding their annual event, so whether you’re working remotely or in the office, show everyone your favorite band T-shirt. Be sure to post a picture on social media using the hashtag #MusicShirtDay.


On Pittsburgh Explainer
Republican Sean Parnell goes back and forth about an audit of 2020's election results; a bill in the state House would make it easier to revitalize main streets; and Democratic state Senators are pushing to increasing accountability for natural gas companies. Listen here.