Science, Health & Tech

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

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Thirty-five new cases of COVID-19 were reported for Allegheny County on Wednesday. The 5 percent increase in new cases is the smallest since the pandemic began. However, it’s too soon to say whether the county is actually flattening the curve, said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Pennsylvania To Seize Medical Supplies For COVID-19 Fight

11 hours ago
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania emergency management officials will be permitted to commandeer N95 face masks, ventilators and other crucial medical equipment for use in the fight against COVID-19 under an order signed Wednesday by Gov. Tom Wolf.

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Nursing homes in the Pittsburgh region are quickly becoming hotspots for novel coronavirus outbreaks. Because of residents’ age, other underlying health conditions and close living quarters, residents at these facilities are particularly at risk of greater transmission and more severe effects of the virus.

John Minchillo / AP

Mayors around the country are calling on the federal government to change the way medical supplies are distributed. 

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA News

Doctors at local Federally Qualified Health Centers say their patients are at higher risk of contracting the novel coronavirus.

NIAID-RML / AP

Robots have long been used to tackle dangerous and dirty jobs. But during a pandemic, even everyday tasks outside the home carry a risk, especially for the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions.

Pennsylvania Residents Told To Wear Masks In Public

Apr 3, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania residents should wear a cloth mask in public to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the governor said Friday, as the state recorded another single-day high in new cases and passed 100 deaths.

Jessica Griffin / Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania has received a fraction of the equipment it has requested from a federal stockpile to help battle the coronavirus, new data shows, as state officials look to other sources to purchase more supplies, including life-saving ventilators.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny Health Network began assembling COVID-19 test kits in its downtown Highmark Health Penn Avenue Place building this week. Dozens of tables with medical staffers lined the auditorium of the building filled with sterile media tubes, swabs, instructions, and biohazard bags.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House Coronavirus Task Force are both reviewing official guidance that people who are healthy don’t need to wear face masks during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

If the federal government changes its stance, that would be a big deal: Just more than a month ago, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams urged the public, in no uncertain terms, to stop buying face masks.

UPMC

The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine says it has developed a promising potential vaccine against the virus driving the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Fears, Infection Thin Staff At Beaver Nursing Home With 2 Deaths

Apr 1, 2020
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A Pennsylvania nursing home where two dementia patients died over the weekend after contracting COVID-19 has struggled to contain the spread, with staff thinned by suspected infection and fears for their own safety.

GENE J. PUSKAR / AP

The adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is certainly true for COVID-19. The disease has no cure, and right now, the only way to avoid completely overwhelming our medical system is to prevent the virus’s spread by isolating ourselves from each other.


KATIE BLACKLEY / 90.5 WESA

If a surge of COVID-19 patients overwhelms local health systems, Allegheny County plans to use the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh to accommodate patients.

Courtesy of Coston Funeral Home

While the number of Pennsylvanians who have died from COVID-19 continues to climb, families who have lost loved ones to the pandemic -- and to other causes -- are trying to figure out what mourning rituals look like during a period of social distancing.

Wolf Closes Schools, Nonessential Businesses Indefinitely

Mar 30, 2020
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday that all schools and nonessential businesses will remain closed indefinitely as Pennsylvania reported nearly 700 new cases of the coronavirus.

MICHAEL BRYANT

With the rate of new coronavirus cases rapidly increasing in Pennsylvania and across the United States, some of the country’s top scientists are racing to understand how bad the outbreak is going to get and what measures can be taken to save as many lives as possible.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

News on the coronavirus pandemic, including the responses of local governments, health departments, hospital systems, schools and other institutions. For information from the previous week, click here

Helpful coronavirus links:

Seth Weing / AP

Medical marijuana dispensaries have implemented curbside pick-up, online ordering, and set designated shopping hours for the nearly 153,000 Pennsylvanians who receive cannabis through the state program. 

Gov. Tom Wolf

Four more Pennsylvanians have died from COVID-19 complications, including the first Bucks County resident and the second in Lancaster County, according to officials’ daily updates provided Sunday.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania increased by more than 640 over the past day and four more people died, the state Health Department announced Sunday.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

UPMC said Friday it’s ramping up telehealth efforts to meet the demands of patients seeking care amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, reporting that last week it provided more remote visits than it did during the entirety of 2019.

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Two residents at an Allegheny County-run nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Though Gov. Tom Wolf has mandated that all those in Allegheny County stay at home, grocery shopping is still considered an essential activity, and many stores across the region are still open for business. But when the most important thing we can do for public well-being is social distancing, how do we stay safe in grocery stores?

Matt Rourke / AP

A shuttered reform school for boys in suburban Philadelphia may be used as a medical overflow facility as coronavirus cases increase and hospitals are pressed for space.

The Glen Mills School has medical and dental facilities, an air field, a generator and a more than 85,000 square-foot athletic facility that could host patients from hospitals and other health care facilities.

Christopher Spriggs, the acting executive director of the institution, said he offered the space a few weeks ago.

NEPA Community Health Center

While U.S. cities may be seeing the initial wave of COVID-19 cases, the novel coronavirus is expected to spread to nearly every community in the nation.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Pennsylvania Department of Health said hand sanitizer-related exposures are up more than 80 percent, compared to this time last year, at poison control centers in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the state’s two largest cities.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A new study from the University of Pittsburgh shows that over the past decade, brand-name drug prices rose three times faster than the rate of inflation, even after factoring in discounts.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A number of COVID-19 testing sites have opened in and around Pittsburgh in the past week. Here’s a list of the sites, and what you need to know before you go.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The post was first published March 24, 2020. If you think something may be wrong, send us an email

LIVE BLOG: Coronavirus In Pittsburgh, March 23-29

Mar 23, 2020
Gene J. Puskar / AP

News on the coronavirus pandemic, including the responses of local governments, health departments, hospital systems, schools and other institutions. For information from the previous week, click here

For information the week of March 30 - April 3, click here.

Helpful coronavirus links:

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