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State Senator Introduces Bill To Make Information About Wasted COVID-19 Vaccines Public

Francisco Seco
With some COVID-19 vaccines sensitive to temperature change, and due to spoil after a certain amount of time, state Sen. David Argall wants to propose a bill to find out how many shots have gone to waste.

On today's program: state Sen. David Argall brought forward a bill to make information about how many COVID-19 vaccines are going to waste public; the American Lung Association’s latest “State of the Air” report gave the Pittsburgh region’s air failing grades, even though the air has improved over the years; and University of Pittsburgh professor Alaina E. Roberts discusses her latest book, “I've Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land.”

Senator David Argall wants to know how many COVID-19 vaccines go to waste
(0:00 — 6:03)

What happens to doses of COVID-19 vaccine that are pulled out of the deep freeze when people don’t show up for their appointments? How many are going to waste?

That’s what State Senator David Argall, a Republican from Schuylkill County, wants to know: he introduced legislation to make this information public.

“Why is it a state secret, according to the governor’s office and the Department of Health, on how many vaccines get accidentally wasted?” Argall asks.

He says the Wolf administration is leaning on the 1955 Disease Prevention and Control Law, which lets the state keep some contagious disease information private to protect individuals. But Argall says his bill is not seeking any personal information.

“You know how valuable those vaccines are, and so we need to make sure that we are utilizing every single one, and when some get wasted I think we deserve to know why so we can fix that mistake so it doesn’t keep happening,” says Argall.

“State of the Air” report says the region’s air is improving, but still unhealthy
(6:04 — 13:22)

The American Lung Association released its annual “State of the Air” report, and once again the Pittsburgh area did not do well.

This report analyzes EPA air quality data from 2017 through 2019, tracking two measures of fine-particle pollution, and ozone smog.

The region assessed and graded by the American Lung Association includes parts of southwestern Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. It also includes the US Steel’s Clairton Coke Works.

“Although [Pittsburgh’s air] has improved for the second straight year for all three measures in the metro area, we do recognize that it also is bad enough to get straight failing grades for all three measures, one of only a handful in the country,” says Kevin Stewart, director of environmental health at the American Lung Association.

The causes of air pollution can vary, but includes smog, cars, industrial sources, power plants, and the construction and agriculture industries.

“We recognize that the air pollution does vary throughout metro areas, but any place in a given county where there’s a bad air pollution day for either ozone or fine particle pollution, those get counted, and then we’ll look and see which areas of the metro area have the worst air pollution,” says Stewart. “That demonstrates the severity of the problem.”

As of January, the region’s air in 2020 was technically “in attainment” of air pollution guidelines, according to the EPA.

Stewart says the year-over-year improvements in air have been noted in the annual “State of the Air” report, which only includes data up until 2019. However, the American Lung Association believes the EPA’s standards should be more strict overall.

A new book examines the relationship between Black people and Native Americans in the 1700s and later
(13:24 — 18:00)

A new book explores the complex history of Black people living on Native American land in the old American West, both before and after Emancipation. The book is titled “I’ve Been Here All The While.”

90.5 WESA’s Bill O’Driscoll spoke with the author, University of Pittsburgh history professor Alaina E. Roberts.

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.

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.
Marylee is the editor/producer of The Confluence, the daily public affairs show on WESA. She got her start in journalism at The Daily Reveille and KLSU while attending Louisiana State University. She took her passion for audio journalism to UC Berkeley's graduate program and worked in public radio at WPR in Madison, WI, and WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Laura Tsutsui is a producer for The Confluence, WESA's morning news show. Previously, she reported on the San Joaquin Valley with the NPR affiliate station in her hometown of Fresno, California. She can be reached at
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