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We Need 'A Way To Live With This Virus,' Says Infectious Disease Expert

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Starting at 5p.m. today, Allegheny County will ban the consumption of alcohol on site at bars and restaurants.


On today's program: Today, Allegheny County will begin enforcing a ban on consumption of alcohol inside bars and restaurants; local nonprofit Ujamaa Collective is switching its focus during the pandemic and protests against police brutality; and thousands of Pennsylvanians are being called back to work, but not all are prepared to return. 

Local COVID cases spike
(00:00 — 6:04)

Starting today at 5 p.m., Allegheny County will begin enforcing an order thatbans the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption in bars and restaurants. Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen issued the order Sunday after393 cases of COVID were reported over a seven-day span. Health Officials reported late Tuesday morning 109 new cases—the highest daily total during the pandemic.

According toDr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert with Johns Hopkins University, he and other health care professionals expected a rise in the number of cases in the green phase of reopening the state due to increased social interaction.

“The virus hadn’t gone anywhere, and any time there’s social interaction you’re going to see cases occur. So this isn’t something we should be surprised about,” he says.

Temporary restrictions on behavior will be necessary until the virus is gone, and that won’t happen without a vaccine, Adalja tells The Confluence. “We have to come up with a way to live with this virus, because it is going to be with us for maybe two years until everybody is vaccinated, and maybe longer if people don’t get vaccinated.”

In the Hill District, Ujamaa Collective invests in community
(6:06 — 13:05)

Pittsburgh’s Hill District has a history of displacement, gentrification and racism. It also has a history of rebuilding, community, and fighting back. Over decades, the Hill has been torn as redevelopment forced out businesses and homes. But residents also stood against the city to say “no more.”

Lakeisha Wolf ownsUjamaa Collective, a nonprofit in the Hill that provides a marketplace for Black women who create art and clothing. She started this year focused on finding a new building for Ujamaa. Then came the pandemic, and more deaths of Black people at the hands of police. 

As part of theAmerica Amplified initiative, 90.5 WESA’sAriel Worthy follows Wolf and Ujamma Collective’s shift in priorities to serve the Hill District community.

Pennsylvania workers weigh risks, benefits of job reopenings
(13:07 — 17:50)

State officials plan to move all of Pennsylvania to the green phase of reopening by the end of this week. That meansthousands of Pennsylvanians who’ve been out of work are being called back.

Some workers say they’re not ready to return because of a pre-existing medical condition or lack of childcare. Keystone Crossroads’Laura Benshoff reports they’re facing a tough choice, with some weighing childcare and their own health against a paycheck. 


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.

Doug Shugarts is a 23-year veteran of broadcast news. Doug began his career at WBUR in Boston, where he worked on the nationally-syndicated programs “The Connection” and “Here and Now.” He won awards for best use of sound, coverage of the 2003 war in Iraq, and helped launch the station’s local news program, “Radio Boston.” In 2014 Doug moved across town to GBH and helped reboot morning news programming and launch other broadcast and web projects. Doug studied Composition at Berklee College of Music and Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of California. A resident of Pittsburgh’s Southside, Doug enjoys feasting on arepas and yucca fries at Cilantro and Ajo and meeting his canine neighbors at Big Dog Coffee.
Julia Zenkevich is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at
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