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Feb. 6-12 Explained: New Variant, Challenges Of Getting A Vaccine & Life Sentences Without Parole

milt_meler__right__gets_his_second_dose_of_the_pfizer-biontech_covid-19_vaccine_at_the_forum_thursday__feb._11__2021__in_inglewood__calif..jpg
Marcio Jose Sanchez
/
AP
Milt Meler, right, gets his second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at The Forum Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif.

On this week's Explainer:

This week the Allegheny County Health Department announced that the first case of B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus was identified in the county. The strain is sometimes referred to as the UK variant. It’s more contagious than the strain of the coronavirus currently dominant in the U.S. Health and science reporter Sarah Boden joins Explainer to discuss what this means for Allegheny County.

A case before Commonwealth Court could impact the lives of more than a thousand people incarcerated in Pennsylvania prisons. WLVR reporter Tyler Pratt reports the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Abolitionist Law Center brought the suit, arguing that the state’s policy of sentencing people to life in prison without the possibility of parole is cruel and unusual punishment.

More than 2 million Pennsylvanians are eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19, simply by virtue of their age. However, just 10% of residents age 65 and up have received the first dose of the vaccine, according to a new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Part of the problem is supply -- there just aren’t enough doses of vaccine for everyone who is eligible to get one. But reporter Kiley Koscinski found that another issue is that the largely online appointment system is inaccessible to many older adults.

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. kblackley@wesa.fm
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 lreid@wesa.fm.