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Allegheny County

The Allegheny County Health Department said on Saturday that there is “community spread” of the coronavirus in the southwestern Pennsylvania region.

GENE J. PUSKAR / AP

Despite directives from state and county health officials, elective surgeries are still being performed at UPMC facilities. 

Medical professionals employed by UPMC, speaking to WESA on condition of anonymity, said this decision may have dire consequences in light of COVID-19’s exponential spread.

While less time sensitive, elective surgeries are often medically necessary; examples include kidney stone removal, hernia repair and shoulder arthroscopy.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb has called for President Trump to use presidential war powers to produce more ventilators and other supplies needed to fight the coronavirus. But by Friday afternoon, it wasn't clear whether Trump would do so. Lamb said using the Defense Production Act could help drastically ramp up the creation of masks, ventilators, and other equipment needed to tackle the fast spreading coronavirus.

Matt Rourke / AP

Taking care of yourself and your family can be difficult during an outbreak. But if you find that you have the energy and ability to pitch in, here are some ways you can help the Pittsburgh community fight against COVID-19.

Food Banks

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Democratic Allegheny County Councilors Liv Bennett and Bethany Hallam plan to introduce emergency legislation next week to slash the county’s jail population, the latest effort to mitigate the spread of coronavirus behind bars.

Ariel Worthy / WESA

Pittsburgh public safety officials said they have taken extra measures to protect emergency responders as the city combats the spread of the coronavirus. Among the tactics: limiting the interaction between police and the public by having officers respond in person only to more serious calls, and handling the rest through a telephone reporting unit.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Going a little stir crazy? Pittsburgh residents can take a break from idle time and work-from-home routines and get to know the city’s history while taking a stroll. Here’s a guide to one of a number of upcoming tours WESA is compiling for history lovers throughout the region.

Wolf Retrenches Sweeping Order, Amid Complaints, Lawsuits

Mar 20, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

Under fire from business groups and Republican lawmakers and facing lawsuits over a broad shutdown order designed to slow the spreading coronavirus, Gov. Tom Wolf's administration defended its actions as critical to preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed, but it also made a series of concessions.

Ed Mahon / PA Post

Child care providers across Pennsylvania face a choice in response to the state’s efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus: Close their doors, or seek permission to stay open.

Both options present risks.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday ordered all child care centers licensed by the state to close for at least 14 days. Initially, the order left providers “confused, frustrated and afraid,” said Diane Barber, executive director of the Pennsylvania Child Care Association.

Mt. Lebanon School District

Most Pennsylvania kids will be home for at least another week to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. New routines and new expectations could lead to a lot of questions and anxieties.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

It's been a weird week in Pittsburgh and all over the country. The threat of the coronavirus has people staying home, schools and businesses are closed, events are canceled. Families are at home taking care of young children and pharmacies and grocery stores are busier than ever as people prepare for what could be a protracted period of social distancing. 


Governor Orders 1000s Of Businesses To Shut Down Over Virus

Mar 19, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

Gov. Tom Wolf issued a sweeping shutdown order to tens of thousands of “non-life-sustaining” businesses Thursday, decreeing they must close their physical locations by 8 p.m. to slow the spread of the coronavirus or face enforcement by state police and other government agencies.

Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and its board on Thursday passed measures to support people and businesses suffering financially because of the coronavirus. A new program that aims to keep people in their homes was among the approvals.

PA Cancels Standardized Testing Because Of Coronavirus

Mar 19, 2020
Seth Perlman / AP

The extraordinary decision to close schools statewide due to the coronavirus outbreak has prompted Pennsylvania to make another extraordinary decision:

The state will not administer standardized tests this year.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

You’ve scrolled through countless of videos of puppies, you’ve binged your shows, and you haven’t changed out of your pajamas since yesterday. (Or was it the day before?)

If you’re self-isolating and need to shake up your routine, here are some virtual offerings in the region to help you battle the doldrums.

Get Moving

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Four days after the Braddock Carnegie Library temporarily closed because of the coronavirus, executive director Vicki Vargo, who was working from home, stopped by to pick up the mail and a few other things. Outside the landmark building’s front door stood a library regular.

Marc Levy / AP

Prison-reform advocates and the state Department of Corrections jousted Thursday morning over whether the coronavirus has already infiltrated the state prison system – and over what should be done to limit its spread.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all nonessential businesses to close on Monday in response to the coronavirus, but grocery stores and pharmacies remain open.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

On today's program: The state prison system grapples with social distancing for staff and inmates; a look at our region’s health care system and its readiness to take on more sick people; and PA is creeping closer to its new mail-in voting deadline.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

On Sunday, Pittsburgh officially began a paid sick leave policy that guarantees earned time off for any full or part time employees who are sick or caring for sick family members. The policy, which was passed in August 2015 but was delayed because of a lawsuit, is being implemented just as public health experts warn that roughly half of Allegheny County residents are expected to acquire coronavirus over the next couple of months.  

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A new election law in Pennsylvania allows registered voters to cast their ballots by mail. It’s meant to make voting more accessible, which is why some organizers have been planning for months to use it to boost turnout. And as the coronavirus spreads, there may be unintended benefits of voting by mail.

Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP

The Pennsylvania Instant Check System, which is used to determine if someone can legally acquire a license to carry a firearm or obtain a firearm for a seller, saw a “surge in requests” earlier this week, said Major Gary Dance, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Records and Identification.

Pennsylvania Confirms First Coronavirus-Related Death

Mar 19, 2020
Gov. Tom Wolf

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration on Wednesday confirmed Pennsylvania’s first death linked to the coronavirus outbreak. The person was an adult from Northampton County and was being treated at a hospital.

Philadelphia Schools, Citing Inequality, Won't Teach Online

Mar 18, 2020
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Philadelphia School District will not offer remote instruction during the coronavirus shutdown, the superintendent announced Wednesday, citing equity concerns in a city where many students lack computers or high-speed internet at home.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Transit agencies across the country are scrambling to keep up with the effects of coronavirus: MTA in New York City says it needs $4 billion from the federal government, operators in Detroit, Mich. held a walkout because of exposure concerns. Port Authority of Allegheny County is seeing rising costs, a drop in ridership, and worried employees.

Penn State Cancels In-Person Classes For Rest Of Semester

Mar 18, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

Penn State University on Wednesday canceled in-person classes for the rest of the spring semester, citing the coronavirus pandemic, as state officials announced a 40% jump in the number of confirmed cases.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Allegheny Health Network is offering drive-through testing for COVID-19 starting Wednesday in Wexford.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: How the state accelerated Pittsburgh Public Schools’ plan to close; why some hospital workers worry they don’t have enough protective gear; what the U.S. Census is doing to mitigate exposure to COVID-19; and a peek into the decision-making process behind public restrictions in Allegheny County.

Emily Previti / PA Post

Social distancing directives and COVID-19 fears didn’t do much to deter voting in special statehouse elections Tuesday. Some poll workers in those districts declined to work on Tuesday, but voting wasn’t disrupted as enough workers reported for duty despite worries about potential health consequences.

Gun Shops In PA Packed Ahead Of Coronavirus Closures

Mar 18, 2020
Elaine Thompson / AP

Gun shops across Pennsylvania have been packed this week, with shoppers buying up ammunition and firearms as uncertainty about the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic continued and Governor Wolf ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses in the state by midnight on Monday.

At some shops, lines stretched out the door.

“It’s insane right now, I’ve got three lines going,” said Jeff Rodemyer, owner of Bluestone Firearms in York.

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