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Some City Workers Impacted By COVID-19 Might Not Be Covered By New Sick Leave

Sarah Kovash
90.5 WESA


On today's program: A look at the latest stories from the WESA newsroom about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact locally; residential water wells in Pennsylvania are not monitored for potentially dangerous bacteria; a reporter lists the top power players in Harrisburg; and Pittsburgh’s paid sick-leave ordinance comes too late for people affected by the coronavirus.

State, local officials take measures to slow coronavirus spread
(00:00 — 15:57)

The Wolf administration Tuesday clarified the governor’s order concerning non-essential businesses in Pennsylvania. The administration is now urging those businesses to close for at least 14 days, calling it a measure to, “flatten the curve and protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians.” 


Also Tuesday morning, Allegheny County Health officials reported another confirmed case of COVID-19 bringing the number to seven in the county with an additional three cases that are presumed positive. That brings the total number of cases to 10. 

90.5 WESA’s Kevin Gavin talks with reporters Katie Blackley, Sarah Boden and Ariel Worthy for the latest including:

  • How the outbreak is affecting the lives of Pittsburghers;
  • The impact on small businesses and their workers;
  • How are city services being affected; and 
  • School districts trying to help students while classes are canceled

The WESA live blog will be updated throughout the day with the latest developments on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Can your water wells make you sick? No testing is required
(17:50 — 24:22)

Two out of three residential water wells that were voluntarily tested in Lancaster County showed the presence of potentially harmful bacteria. The testing was conducted by LNP newspaper and LancasterOnline


State and federal government agencies monitor public water systems for levels of contaminants, but not private water wells.  That means there are no government-enforced maximum contaminant levels for private water supplies. According to LancasterOnline, there are 38,000 private wells in Lancaster County and one million across Pennsylvania. 

WITF’s Brett Sholtis worked with LancasterOnline to find out what the testing showed and what the risks are when drinking tainted water. 

Who really holds the power in Harrisburg politics?  
(24:25 — 33:19) 

In state government and politics, a few well-known names get the attention and often the accolades.  But many more are actually getting the work accomplished. 

The Caucus, a newspaper in Harrisburg, is profiling some of  the state’s most influential power players in three categories: movers and shakers, rising stars and the most powerful.

According to investigative reporter Mike Wereschagin, one of the top movers and shakers is Carol Kunihol, chair and co-founder of Fair Districts PA. Her work helped bring about the redrawing of Congressional districts in Pennsylvania. 

The Caucus also cited Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, for starting the Ready to Run project that has encouraged more women to run for elected office at all levels of government.

Among those selected for the rising stars category are Republican State Senator Lisa Baker, chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee, and Democratic State Senator Katie Muth, who has called the capitol “the dome of corruption.”

Wereschagin says the list of the power players will be different next year with the retirements of two of the most influential lawmakers:  Speaker of the House MikeTurzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati.

City’s sick-leave ordinance: too late? 
(33:22 — 39:13)

Research shows that sick-leave policies significantly reduce disease transmission. With that in mind, Pittsburgh's new sick-leave ordinance guaranteeing time off for workers in the city might seem to have passed just in time amid concern about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But 90.5 WESA’s Maria Rose reports that with the accrual period just starting last Sunday, it might not help as many as it could have. 

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.

Kiley covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
Megan Harris is a writer, editor, photographer and curator for Pittsburgh's NPR News station. She leads editorial coverage for The Confluence, 90.5 WESA's live, one-hour, daily morning news show.
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