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COVID-19 Cases Are Slowly Rising In PA, But So Far, No New Mandates Have Been Made

Keith Srakocic

On today’s program: An update on the latest COVID-19 news and a look at the region’s rate of COVID-19 transmission, which has started to tick up as the delta variant spreads; an exhibit on women’s attire in sports from 1800 to 1960 debuted at The Frick Pittsburgh, just in time for the world to see a full range of outfits worn by athletes in the summer Olympics; and a local Marine explains how he met his dog while deployed in the Republic of Georgia, and his journey to get her back from overseas.

COVID-19 transmission up to ‘substantial’ in Allegheny County
(0:00 - 5:52)

Over the weekend, 320 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Allegheny County, and more than three thousand cases were reported across the state. While this is lower than case counts during the peaks of the virus, this is still concerning to public health experts.

This increase in cases is being attributed to the delta variant.

“It’s just more infectious,” says Sarah Boden, health and science reporter for 90.5 WESA. “The way we think the delta variant is different from previous strains of the coronavirus is that you produce more virus and so, therefore, you’re going to see more breakthrough cases of vaccinated people, you’re gonna see a lot more unvaccinated people get sick.”

Breakthrough cases, where people vaccinated against COVID-19 still test positive for the virus and show some symptoms, are becoming more common. Boden says healthy, vaccinated people who contract COVID-19 could get mild symptoms, similar to the common cold, but the risk is still much less compared to those unvaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidance suggesting vaccinated people in areas of high or substantial COVID-19 transmission wear a mask when indoors in public.

“As of late yesterday, we are now in ‘substantial’ transmission, and so the mask mandate should now be in effect, according to the CDC,” says Boden. She notes that orders from the governor and county officials have been challenged at every turn, so she expects with any new mandates issued, “there’s only going to be so much cooperation that they’re going to get from the community.”

Exhibition on women's sporting attire debuts at The Frick Pittsburgh
(6:01 - 15:15)

The Frick is hosting a national premiere of the exhibition, Sporting Fashion: Outdoor Girls 1800 to 1960.

The exhibition showcases the evolution of women's athletic attire over the last two centuries and features 60 different outfits.

"People have always tried to police what women have worn,” says Dawn Brean, acting chief curator at the Frick. “I don't think that's really new, and this show kind of proves that over this particular period, women shortened and eventually shed their skirts, dawning clothing that was comfortable, functional and fashionable.”

Brean says back then, like today, women had to navigate social norms dictating what was “decent and modest, and how a woman should be appropriately attired.”

The exhibition's first section includes outfits from activities not often associated with sports today: walking, picnicking and promenading. From there, it transitions into more familiar sports and outfits from the early 20th century, including horseback riding, swimming, and tennis.

Local Marine reunites with the dog he met overseas
(15:28 - 22:30)

The SPCA International has been reuniting soldiers with animals they befriended during their deployment, but were unable to bring with them when they returned home.

One such soldier is U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Kyle Loconte, who met his dog, Ashley, on his base in the Republic of Georgia in 2019.

Stray dogs, he says, would often wander around the base, looking for food and attention.

“There were about eight or nine dogs on base, all strays. They would come up to you asking for head pets, belly rubs, all this other stuff,” says Loconte. “I was in the motor pool, where I was just working under a truck, and she came trotting along, and I saw a big floofy [sic] dog ... and that's when I met her.”

He’s not certain what breed Ashley is, but guesses she’s a sheepdog mix. She was also found with a tag on her ear that, in Georgia, indicates she’s a vaccinated stray.

As Loconte’s time overseas ran out, it occurred to him that Ashley likely wouldn’t be able to come with him to the U.S., due to CDC restrictions in place to stop the spread of rabies.

“My biggest regret was not bringing her home,” he says. “I tried so hard to find a way.”

Earlier this year, he was contacted by a fellow Marine, also deployed in Georgia, who told Loconte about SPCA International’s plans to bring animals back to the soldiers they befriended. Loconte quickly agreed to bring Ashley home.

Ashley is currently staying with Loconte’s mother in York Springs, Pennsylvania, where he says she’s adjusting well.

“I've seen sides of her that I didn't know existed,” he says. “She's barking at squirrels, running up trees, playing around with Frisbees and balls, and playing around with my other dog. It’s so fascinating.”

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. kgavin@wesa.fm
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 ltsutsui@wesa.fm.
Rebecca Reese is a production assistant for The Confluence.
Eoin is a production assistant for The Confluence and a senior at NC State University studying political science. He got his start in broadcasting at WKNC, NC State's college radio station. When he's not working, he enjoys hiking, surfing, and listening to music.
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