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May 18-22 Explained: Disease Spread In Schools, State Testing Data & A Vote On The Lower Hill

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Customers wait outside La Gourmandine French bakery on Butler Street on Friday, May 15, 2020.

As warm weather arrives in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf will consider lifting a number of pandemic restrictions throughout the next few weeks. Allegheny County still operates in the yellow phase of reopening, but residents can enjoy Memorial Day weekend at the newly reopened state parks.

Tent and RV camping is allowed starting this weekend. Cabins, cottages, lodges and yurts are expected to open June 12th. But the City of Pittsburgh and many other municipalities are not opening pools, so lake swimming and creek wading will likely be the best way to beat the heat this summer.

Looking toward the fall, educators and officials are trying to decide if students will have in-person classes, and how that might logistically work. Some recommendations include adults wearing face shields and staggered schedules, as well as regular temperature checks and reduced class sizes.

Helping explain the headlines this week:

The Atlantic reported this week that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state of Pennsylvania, along with a handful of other states, are combining test results from antibody tests and viral tests. But experts say the tests analyze two different things, and that conflating the data obscures the picture of testing and makes it more difficult to identify outbreaks.

The board of Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority gave preliminary approval to the Pittsburgh Penguins to build a new office tower on the former Civic Arena site in the Lower Hill District. The board made its final approval contingent on the Penguins fulfilling commitments made to the Greater Hill District Community.

Those commitments include job creation and wealth building initiatives for residents, as well as investments in infrastructure and housing. The Penguins have reversed an announcement made last week, saying they would cease development on the site.

Pittsburgh Explainer is hosted by Liz Reid and produced by Katie Blackley. New episodes come out every Friday. Subscribe on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher and Spotify.

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer of Pittsburgh Explainer and our Good Question! series. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community.
Liz Reid oversees newsroom operations at WESA. She began working at WESA in 2013 as a general assignment reporter and weekend host. Since then, she’s worked as the Morning Edition producer, health & science reporter and as an editor. You can reach her at