WESA Daily Briefing: September 21, 2020

Sep 21, 2020

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.

 

5:09 p.m — City, PPS partner for safer routes to school for children

The City of Pittsburgh is launching a new program to improve sidewalks, street lighting, and bike routes for children to get to school. The Safe Routes to School Program will launch at four Pittsburgh Public Schools this fall. 

Dr. Russell Patterson, principal of Faison K-5 Elementary school in Homewood, said students face obstacles on their way to school: "Our students deserve to be able to walk to school and not have to encounter debris such as broken glass drug paraphernalia and litter."

"This is about environmental sustainability, so really finding alternative means for people to come to school, so that we don’t have the levels of traffic the levels of congestion that we see around our schools with every parent dropping their students off individually," said Karina Ricks, director of the city's Department of Mobility and Infrastructure. "We are really embracing that ability to walk and bike."

Although PPS students are currently learning remotely, the city plans to implement the initiative this fall, so the community will reap the benefits of the improvement throughout the year.  

4:25 p.m. — Secrecy envelopes will cause electoral chaos, Philly elections official warns

Philadelphia's top elections official is warning of electoral chaos in the presidential battleground state if lawmakers there do not remove a provision in Pennsylvania law that, under a days-old court decision, requires counties to throw out mail-in ballots returned without secrecy envelopes.

Lisa Deeley, chairwoman of the three-member board overseeing Philadelphia's elections, wrote Monday to the state Legislature's presiding Republicans to urge them to back legislation to remove a provision she calls unnecessary.

Read more.

3:10 p.m. - Allegheny Co. COVID cases up, but "have not risen dramatically"

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.

Listen to his entire conversation with WESA's The Confluence here.   

12:59 p.m. – PA passes 150K COVID cases 

The Allegheny County Health Department reported a total of 116 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and Monday, the result of 2,175 tests. Those infected range in age from 4 to 92 years old. The county reported no new deaths.  

Statewide, the number of cases rose by 234 Monday. That total, combined with 733 new cases Sunday brought the statewide total to 150,812. The state also reported 25 new deaths Sunday, as well as 23 more deaths Monday, bringing the total to 8,004. 

10:57 a.m. - More Trump, Biden visits to PA this week

President Donald Trump will make his fourth and fifth appearances in September in Pennsylvania, flying into and out of rallies at two different airports this week. Tuesday’s event is at Pittsburgh International Airport and Saturday’s event is at Harrisburg International Airport. Trump’s visits underscores the importance of Pennsylvania to the Nov. 3 presidential election, as Trump seeks a second term against Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Biden has made four visits to Pennsylvania this month, including an address Sunday in Philadelphia, where he slammed Trump and leading Senate Republicans for trying to install a replacement on the Supreme Court for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  

10:42 a.m. – Nearly 200 people tested at new McKeesport site

More than 180 people have already been tested for COVID-19 at the McKeesport drive-up testing site, which opened last week.

While officials say appointments are preferred, no one will be turned away. Those who want to get tested must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have symptoms of COVID-19;
  • Have been in contact with someone that has COVID-19;
  • Work in a nursing home or long-term care facility;
  • Are a critical infrastructure worker, health care worker, or first responder;
  • Are a high-risk patient and have recently attended a gathering of 10 or more people; or
  • Live in a shelter or single room occupancy.

The site is located at 455 Industry Road and is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

9:20 a.m. - Greenfield Bridge closed for repairs

The Greenfield Bridge will be closed today for repair work on the deck and barrier. The bridge will remain closed for about 30 days, according to the city. Traffic will be detoured via Beechwood Boulevard, Forward Avenue, Murray Avenue and Beacon Street. There should be no impact to travel on the parkway below.  The current Greenfield Bridge opened in October of 2017.  

7:15 a.m. - An 'unprecedented' Steelers home opener

The Tribune-Review looks at how fans and North Shore restaurants dealt with a pandemic Steelers home opener, reporting, "The parking lots around Heinz Field, normally bursting with excited Steelers fans, were bare. Coronavirus-related restrictions had barred the usual tailgaters from their usual spots. There were cars, but no people. No grills. No beer. No games."