Pittsburgh Explainer

Pennsylvania played a key role in the election of President Donald Trump in the 2016 election. This year, both Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have their eye on winning Pennsylvania and securing the state's 20 electoral votes. 

Matt Rourke / AP

The coronavirus pandemic caused more than one million Pennsylvanians to vote by mail in the June primary, and state officials expect that number to roughly triple in November. With a little over a month until the election, the rules around voting by mail are still in flux, as several lawsuits make their way through the courts.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

An extra $500 per month will soon arrive for 200 Pittsburgh households. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said the city will start to make the payments later this year as part of a universal income pilot program. The initiative is funded by philanthropic donors and will go to very low-income families with an emphasis on homes run by Black women.


Photo by Vanessa German

  

Two women, lifelong friends, consummate their yearly hotel-room assignation on the eve of Y2K. A man and a woman, near-strangers, have sex in a car outside the hospice where both their mothers are dying. A woman writes a long letter to her sister, who never knew their wayward father, who just died. A girl grows up understanding, but forbidden to speak about, her mother’s years-long affair with their pastor – and then becomes close to the pastor’s wife and teen-aged son.

Marina Riker / AP

Both President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden were in Southwestern Pennsylvania this week.


Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Public Art Commission will soon hold a public hearing on whether to remove the Christopher Columbus statue in Schenley Park. More than 14,000 people have signed a petition asking for the statue’s removal.

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

 

Anti-racist activists faced off with Pittsburgh police in Point Breeze Wednesday night, after talks with Mayor Bill Peduto broke down. Police used chemical agents and other less-lethal crowd control methods, and one person was arrested.

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

This week, Duquesne University held its first press conference in response to the demands of Dannielle Brown, whose son Marquis Jaylen Brown died on campus in 2018.


Dannielle Brown hasn’t eaten in more than a month. But she says she hasn’t breathed in nearly two years.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA


Vice President Mike Pence was in Westmoreland County Thursday at a “Cops for Trump” event. He greeted a crowd of supporters outside the police station in Greensburg, most of whom weren’t wearing masks or social distancing.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


The Pittsburgh Public Schools first day of school is scheduled for August 31st, just a little more than five weeks away. But it’ll be at least another week and a half before families know for sure what fall instruction is going to look like. While some districts are offering a hybrid model, with both online and in-person instruction, others haven’t made up their minds yet, including PPS.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


The number of coronavirus cases continues to surge in the Pittsburgh region, with more than 2,000 new cases reported over the last two weeks.

Kiley Koscinski / 90.5 WESA


Allegheny County has reported record high numbers of new COVID-19 cases over the past week. On Thursday, the region broke 200 for the first time. The people infected are skewing younger and public health officials say many of them spent time in bars and restaurants or traveled out of state.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Anger over entrenched racism and white supremacy in American culture is boiling over, after the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other black people at the hands of police and private citizens. Regular protests continue in Pittsburgh and across the country, but many activists have pivoted from simply expressing rage to making demands.

And, after more than a month of COVID-19 case counts trending downward, Allegheny County saw a spike over the past week. Since last Friday, the county has reported 199 new cases.

Amy Sisk / 90.5 WESA


On this week’s Pittsburgh Explainer, we revisit a story from our series Still Working, produced by Margaret J. Krauss and Kevin C. Brown about how work shapes who we are and how we see the world.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


There’s a discussion happening in Pittsburgh and around the country about the ways we as a society think about policing. People are questioning whether armed officers are really the ones who should be handling issues of mental illness, domestic disputes and broken tail lights.

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

The death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day has inspired protests across the country. Here in Pittsburgh, demonstrations began on Saturday and have continued every day since.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The coronavirus shutdown began just as winter turned into spring. Since then, people have been learning new skills, taking on home projects and figuring out how to navigate life in these strange times.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

As warm weather arrives in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf will consider lifting a number of pandemic restrictions throughout the next few weeks. Allegheny County still operates in the yellow phase of reopening, but residents can enjoy Memorial Day weekend at the newly reopened state parks.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County and 12 other Southwestern Pennsylvania counties have entered the yellow phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan.

Daycares are allowed to reopen, as are many retail establishments and churches. Gatherings of less than 25 people are permitted, but individuals are still expected to socially distance and wear masks; restaurants are closed to dine-in customers; and gyms, movie theaters and casinos are all still shuttered.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Twenty-four northwestern and north-central Pennsylvania counties move into the "yellow" phase of Gov. Tom Wolf's reopening plan Friday. Businesses will begin to flip their "closed" signs to "open," all while taking precautionary health and safety measures. 

Matt Rourke / AP

The coronavirus pandemic has made the world feel small for many people. Some haven't left their neighborhoods in weeks; others haven't even left their homes. It's also impacting the people and businesses who supply our food, with numerous farmers and growers around the state having to alter their operations to meet changing demand.


Matt Rourke / AP

  

In two weeks, Pennsylvania’s economy will see a gradual reopening. Gov. Tom Wolf set May 8 as the target date for certain regions of the commonwealth to begin easing social distancing measures.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


It’s been about a month since schools and businesses shut down in Pennsylvania, in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. The goal of these restrictive social distancing measures is to flatten the curve.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County residents are eager to see if the curve of COVID-19 cases is flattening and wondering when life might return to normal. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

It will be at least another month before life can be expected to go back to normal due to restrictions related to the novel coronavirus. Gov. Tom Wolf has extended his stay-at-home order and expanded it to include the entire state of Pennsylvania. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

It's week two of extreme social distancing in Pittsburgh, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Allegheny County and a number of other Pennsylvania counties are under a "stay-at-home" order from Gov. Tom Wolf. 

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

It's been a weird week in Pittsburgh and all over the country. The threat of the coronavirus has people staying home, schools and businesses are closed, events are canceled. Families are at home taking care of young children and pharmacies and grocery stores are busier than ever as people prepare for what could be a protracted period of social distancing. 


Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Coronavirus has now spread to more than 100 countries, representing two-thirds of the world’s population. In Pittsburgh, large events are being canceled; college classes are moving online; and everyone’s taking extra long to wash their hands.

Helping explain the headlines this week from the WESA newsroom:

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh area organizations have taken precautionary measures as the coronavirus spreads, and Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey says emergency funds need more support. The Allegheny County Health Department has a new director, Dr. Debra Bogen, a pediatrician from UPMC Children's hospital. And, how will voters respond to a future Democratic presidential candidate’s stance on fracking?

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