Coronavirus Cases In Allegheny County Up Slightly, But ‘Have Not Risen Dramatically’


On today's program: COVID-19 cases are up slightly in Allegheny County since the start of the school year; a preview of the races for president, state row offices, and legislative seats in Pennsylvania; and a look at the 28th House district race to replace former House Speaker Mike Turzai. 

County and health department prepare for a potential increase in COVID-19 cases as schools return to in-person learning
(00:00 — 6:39)

COVID-19 cases are up slightly in Allegheny County since the start of the school year, which was expected, but cases mostly remain under 100 per day. The Allegheny County Health Department reports about 20 percent of cases reported in September were connected to colleges and universities, and another 2 percent of cases were from K-12 students attending some form of in-person classes.

“Thankfully, here in Allegheny County so far, the numbers have not risen dramatically like they did back in June,” says Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

The county is preparing for a possible spike in cases when more local schools return to in-person classes later in the fall.

“We want to have kids in the classroom, we want to have people having normal activities that they’ve done before. But if it’s not done in a safe and responsible manner, with people wearing their masks, with people distancing, and washing their hands—the things that we have learned—then things can go badly very quickly,” Fitzgerald says.

While the president and the head of the CDC disagree over a timetable for a vaccine, the county health department is planning for a rollout to distribute it.

Fitzgerald says the preparation required to administer the vaccine on a large scale span both public and private institutions.

Six weeks before the election, a preview of Pennsylvania’s key races
(6:40 — 13:12)

Pennsylvanians will cast their votes for the president but also for state row offices and presidential seats this November. But questions still remain for voters and election officials alike.

Last week, the state Supreme Court ruled on one of multiple lawsuits concerning the election and voted 5-2 to remove Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins from the ballot in Pennsylvania due to irregularities in filing petitions.

The ruling could be good news for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, says 90.5 WESA government and accountability editor Chris Potter.

“If you’re a Democrat and worried about what is likely to be a very tight election in a key battleground state, this is one less thing for you to worry about.”

Some state-level races have drawn national attention, including the 17th Congressional District race between incumbent Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Sean Parnell.

Potter says some of the races in Pennsylvania could be indicative of how voters feel about the Republican Party.

“You know, the big question for a lot of races up and down the ballot this year is how do folks in college-educated suburbs—that have traditionally been Republican—how are they feeling about the direction of this party?”

Two new candidates vying to represent Pennsylvania’s 28th district
(13:14 — 17:48)

For the last 20 years, the North Hills suburbs were represented in the state House by conservative champion Mike Turzai. Now that the former House speaker has resigned, there’s a chance for a major shift in a district where demographics are changing. 90.5 WESA’s Lucy Perkins profiles the race’s candidates.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.