Science, Health & Tech

We cover these essential linchpins of the Pittsburgh regional economy, and how they impact residents' personal health and employment. 

PA's Failure To Mandate Quicker Death Reporting Before COVID-19 Fueled Data Fluctuations, Mistrust

Sep 24, 2020
Dan Nott / Spotlight PA

For years, Pennsylvania has had a hard time counting its dead.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA


On today's program: The long-lasting impacts of redlining are still felt in some Pittsburgh neighborhoods; the Pittsburgh Art Commission plans to debate the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in Schenley Park; and Puerto Ricans living in Pennsylvania after being displaced by Hurricane Maria look forward to voting in the U.S. presidential election. 

Pennsylvania Launches New Virus Exposure Notification App

Sep 22, 2020
Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania's new coronavirus exposure notification app became available in app stores Tuesday could soon be compatible with those of three neighboring states, including New York.


University of Pittsburgh and UPMC researchers plan to start human trials early next year for an antibody therapy that might both prevent and treat COVID-19.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Most epidemiologists and other health officials agree it is best not to travel right now. But for those planning to pack up and head out, there are some universal precautions to consider and advice about where to go. 

Kalim Bhatti / The Philadelphia Inquirer

Eight years ago, as the state was still recovering from the fallout of a severe economic recession, lawmakers in Harrisburg cut $84 million that counties used to fund programs for people with intellectual disabilities, mental health challenges, and other needs.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center has released 3D anatomical data and genetic sequences of tissues from seven organs, including the heart, kidney, and small and large intestines.

Min Xian / WPSU

The number of cases of COVID-19 in Centre County shot up by 184 Wednesday, in a spike that overshadows all previous increases and will likely raise questions in the community about whether Penn State can contain the spread among students.


Pittsburgh-based biotech company CytoAgents is launching into phase one of clinical trials this month on a drug designed to treat people with COVID-19 who develop serious respiratory distress when their immune system overreacts to the virus.

Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP/file

Pennsylvania’s largest medical system reports that its COVID-19 patients are experiencing better outcomes than what was seen at the start of the pandemic, though it’s not clear why this is occurring.


Data from the Allegheny County Health Department show that racial disparities in COVID-19 cases increased after the early summer surge of infections.

Dan Nott / Spotlight PA

During the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic, the public had no way to measure which Pennsylvania nursing homes were hardest hit.


Out of more than 1,000 tests, there were just 14 new cases of COVID-19 reported Wednesday in Allegheny County. That is the lowest daily case count in more than two months.


In early July, Talia Landerman decided to get a coronavirus test.  

This was when Allegheny County was reporting nearly 200 cases of COVID-19 daily. Landerman works in an office and both her parents are over 60, so she wanted to be sure she wasn't an asymptomatic carrier. 

keith srakocic / AP


On today's program: Critics say mixed messages and botched communication could have worsened the coronavirus pandemic; parents scramble to find childcare and learning assistance for their school-aged children; and nature organizations reach out to Black environmentalists. 

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The pandemic has created plenty of questions about voting logistics ahead of the November election, but a voting rights group is using data to take some of the guesswork out of election day.

Tim Tai / Philadelphia Inquirer

“Do I have COVID-19?”

In Pennsylvania and across the country, coronavirus test results are sometimes taking weeks to come back. Those delays are frustrating for those who might be sick, and just plain unacceptable to state officials.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Gatherings at concert halls and stadiums are still widely limited to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But a Wexford-based startup thinks it has one way to get people back to these venues sooner: an electrostatic drone capable of blanketing high contact surfaces in disinfectant.

Google Maps

Nursing home employees may soon be required to have weekly coronavirus tests according to a press release from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Inside Some Pennsylvania Rehabs, ‘It’s Like COVID Doesn’t Exist’

Aug 13, 2020
Dan Nott / Spotlight PA

Waking up on June 14, Colleen Moskov couldn’t remember what had happened the night before. She had blacked out from another episode of binge drinking, a frequent occurrence over the past six months. But that morning, Moskov decided she’d had enough.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania reported nearly 1,000 new virus cases and another 24 new coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday, bringing the state’s total to more than 122,000 Pennsylvanians infected and more than 7,400 dead.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Health Department is pleading with bars and restaurants to continue following state and local regulations aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Courtesy Bureau of Prisons

An outbreak at the federal prison in Lewisburg is driving a surge in coronavirus cases in Union County.

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

Earlier this summer the Allegheny County Health Department recommended that people who were returning from out-of-state travel should quarantine for two weeks, unless they could get two consecutive coronavirus tests that were both negative. 

These COVID-19 Patients Survived. But They Never Recovered

Aug 11, 2020
Courtesy of Melissa Mazur

Certain units of measurement have become familiar standards in the new language of this pandemic: 6 feet of distance, 20 seconds of hand washing, 2 weeks of quarantine.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania's new cases of COVID-19 reached 601 on Monday, the state Health Department reported, and there three additional deaths were reported.

University of Pittsburgh

"A man shouldn't have to do household chores."

"Men should use violence to get respect if necessary."

These are two of five beliefs about “harmful masculinity” that University of Pittsburgh researchers identified as correlating with violence, sexual harassment and poor mental health outcomes.

To achieve these findings, researchers survey more than 3,600 men between the ages of 18 and 30 in the U.S., .U.K. and Mexico about their beliefs around masculinity.


The current civil rights movement has been an emotionally and intellectually taxing experience for many Black Americans who are confronting injustices that stretch back generations.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Gina Winstead wants to see the technology industry act more like the manufacturing industry of the past, at least when it comes to hiring and training talent.


A UPMC cardiologist is no longer the program director for one of the medical system’s fellowship programs after he published an article in a prominent journal asserting that affirmative action policies produce less-qualified medical students and residents.