News on the coronavirus pandemic, protests, 2020 election and more from around Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and southwestern Pennsylvania.
Find all of the WESA Daily Briefing posts here.
Editor's note: This post will be frequently updated with the latest news.
5:51 p.m. - Trump, Biden to visit Flight 93 Memorial tomorrow
Both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden plan to be in Somerset County Friday to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the 9:45 a.m. ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial will not be open to the public. The event, however, will be streamed online.
5:16 p.m. - Federal assistance fund runs out of money
A federal assistance program designed to supplement unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania has dried up before the first checks have been distributed.
The Lost Wages Assistance Program will grant those receiving unemployment compensation an additional 300-dollars per week. The federal program was expected to run through December or until funds were depleted, according to Pennsylvania Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak.
“And we just learned this week from the U.S. Department of Labor and FEMA that the claim week ending this past Saturday, September 5th, will be the last week for those benefits,” Oleksiak said.
The funds will apply to those unemployed due to the pandemic between August 1st and September 5th.
4:57 p.m. – CMU delays spring semester
Carnegie Mellon University announced today that it will delay the start of its spring semester until February 1.
CMU says it expects the COVID-19 pandemic to continue through the winter and wants to limit classes during flu season. The delay will also allow international students more time to obtain visas.
The university is currently planning a hybrid learning model of learning for the spring, with a combination of in-person and remote classes.
4:09 p.m. - Panthers football begins tomorrow with COVID safety measures
The Pitt Panthers kick off their football season tomorrow at against Austin Peay — but the stands at Heinz Field will be empty.
The school’s athletic department announced last month that there will be no spectators for the three home games scheduled during September, in accordance with state and local COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
There are currently no definitive plans to allow fans for home games in October and November, though the possibility has not been ruled out.
2:31 p.m. - Allegheny County residents navigate changing eviction rules
Landlords filed more than one hundred eviction notices last week, between the end of the state moratorium on evictions and foreclosures and the start of the CDC eviction ban. Some of these evictions are now up to judges.
“The president judge of Allegheny County issued an order that said that in those cases the district judges that handle those evictions can essentially kind of string them along,” says investigative reporter Rich Lord, who has been covering these developments for PublicSource.
Listen to more from Lord on WESA's The Confluence.
1:06 p.m. – Latest COVID numbers
The Allegheny County Health Department reported 54 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, the result of 859 tests. Those infected range in age from 12 to 83 years old. No new deaths were reported.
Statewide, the number of cases increased by 587 to 141,877. The state also reported 15 new deaths, bringing the statewide total to 7,820.
9:32 a.m. - Food Bank requests reservations
The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is asking the public to make reservations in advance of food distributions. Reservations are open four weeks ahead of each distribution and close at 5 p.m. the day before. A limited number of food shares are available without reservations on a first-come, first-serve basis. The next distribution takes place Saturday in Beaver Falls
8:04 a.m. - Pence campaigns on economic success, despite high unemployment
Vice President Mike Pence talked jobs at a rally in Freedom, Pennsylvania on Wednesday. 90.5 WESA’s Lucy Perkins reports his claims don’t add up.
The rally was held at a Beaver County natural gas well, and the crowd appeared to be under the state limit of 250 people, though very few masks were worn. Pence hit key campaign issues: from standing with police and appointing conservative federal judges.
The speech also included false claims about Joe Biden’s position on natural gas.
“Last week Joe Biden came to Pittsburgh after months of campaigning on a plan to abolish fossil fuels. I heard him say ‘I am not for banning fracking.’ Well, maybe he just forgot what he said before,” Pence said.
Biden’s platform does not include a fracking ban but has voiced opposition to drilling on federal land. Most fracking in Pennsylvania is done on private property.
The Biden campaign responded with a statement that the unemployment rate in Beaver County is nearly 16 percent. It blamed those numbers on Trump’s response to the coronavirus and trade sanctions that hurt the local steel industry.