Science, Health & Tech

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

Gov. Tom Wolf

Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday said he would elevate two officials involved in his administration's response to the coronavirus to replace the departing Dr. Rachel Levine as his health secretary and physician general.

Wolf said he intends to nominate a deputy chief of staff, Alison Beam, to take over as secretary of the Department of Health. Wolf, meanwhile, elevated Dr. Wendy Braund, the Covid-19 response director for the department, to acting interim physician general.

Pennsylvania Hospitals: Not Enough Vaccine To Go Around

9 hours ago
Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Some of Pennsylvania’s largest health systems are delivering a reality check after the state greatly expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine this week, pointing out there's not nearly enough supply to meet surging demand.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Health care workers at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital say some of the hospital’s COVID-19 practices don’t sufficiently protect patients or staff from contracting the coronavirus – and that social-media posts from a supervisor questioning the severity of the pandemic have made the situation even more nerve-wracking.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA News

Western Pennsylvania’s two largest medical systems both say that despite the state's new COVID vaccination guidelines, their ability to vaccinate patients is extremely finite.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Health Department is strongly encouraging COVID-19 vaccine providers wait to vaccinate individuals age 65 and older and younger people with high-risk health conditions. The direction was announced hours after Pennsylvania health officials expanded the so-called Phase 1A category to include those individuals.

Pennsylvania Expands Vaccine Eligibility To 65 And Older

Jan 19, 2021
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania is expanding eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine in the initial phase of the rollout to include people age 65 and over as well as younger people with serious health conditions that put them at higher risk, state health officials announced Tuesday.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA News

Less than 42% of the more than 1 million vaccine doses allocated to Pennsylvania have been adminstered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP/file

Dr. George Garrow with Primary Health Network says trust will be critical for the acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County officials are urging local COVID-19 vaccine providers to inoculate frontline health care workers over those further down the state's prioritization list. County health department director Dr. Debra Bogen said providers should contact the county if they can’t find groups of phase 1A workers.


When a UPMC service coordinator received notification this month that it was her turn to get the COVID vaccine, she was surprised. 

U.K. Coronavirus Variant Found In PA Adds Risk To Hospitals

Jan 13, 2021
Jae C. Hong / AP

The emerging COVID-19 variant from the United Kingdom does not appear to be more likely to kill an infected person, said Dr. Muhammed Ali, an infectious disease consultant at Penn State Health Holy Spirit in Camp Hill. 

Pennsylvania Department of Health

With substantial COVID-19 transmission rates in all 67 counties, the Pennsylvania Department of Health today shared its weekly update on Pennsylvania’s case investigation and contact tracing efforts, and again encouraged Pennsylvanians to download the COVID Alert PA app in order to help the commonwealth track cases.

Pennsylvania Department of Health

The state health department has created a map that lists COVID-19 vaccine providers across Pennsylvania. Providers who currently offer vaccines and those that eventually will as the state’s roll out enters its later stages are included.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania officials announced 5,338 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and 7,506 from the previous day. The total number of infections since the start of the pandmeic is now 726,154.

Rogelio V. Solis / AP

On today's program: An infectious disease physician says the arrival of a more contagious variant of COVID-19 should be motivating the vaccination rollout; The Pittsburgh Penguins received nearly $5 million as a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program; and the 105th Pennsylvania Farm Show has gone virtual this year.

More contagious COVID-19 variant has reached Pennsylvania
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Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Pennsylvania on Friday released an updated coronavirus vaccine plan that makes more people eligible for shots in the initial phases of the rollout. Health care workers and nursing home residents remain at the front of the line, followed by people 75 years and older and "essential workers" like police officers, grocery store clerks and teachers.


Many Pennsylvania dentists, pharmacists, midwives, translators and others who work directly with patients in health care settings are still waiting to get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Last week, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine signed an order directing hospitals to designate 10% of their COVID-19 vaccine shipment for non-hospital workers.

Matt Slocum / AP

A new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Pennsylvania for the first time, state health officials announced Thursday.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

It is likely the new strain of the coronavirus that was first identified in the U.K. is already circulating in Allegheny County, according to the chair of the county’s board of health.


State data show that COVID-19 hospitalizations in Pennsylvania have increased by more than 500 percent since the beginning of November. But administrators of the state’s largest hospital system continue to say that staff are capable of handling this significant influx of patients. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Health Department announced a second clinic for COVID-19 vaccines Monday. The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Monroeville will serve as a point of distribution in addition to the Health Department’s downtown location.

Allegheny Health Network

After weeks of record high coronavirus case numbers, the pandemic in Pennsylvania is finally starting to ebb — but the commonwealth isn’t out of the woods yet.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

GNC is allowing people to skip the line for coronavirus testing -- the Pittsburgh-based wellness retailer now sells an over-the-counter test on its website for $120. 

UPMC Livestream

In Allegheny County and elsewhere, the end of 2020 brings worries that COVID-19 cases will rise due to holiday celebrations, but also hope that a new vaccine will finally curb the pandemic.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The coronavirus vaccine is coming to the Kane Community Living Centers, which have lost a total of 46 residents to COVID-19 this year.


A portable, pod-shaped device is helping nursing homes, dentist offices and others to protect patients and residents from the coronavirus. The Nanowave Air, developed by Cheswick, Pa.-based Dynamics, is reportedly the first device of its kind.

Nursing Home Residents, Workers To Get Coronavirus Vaccines

Dec 28, 2020
Stephen Dunn / AP

The federal government is beginning to vaccinate nursing home workers and residents in Pennsylvania against the coronavirus.

David Zalubowski / AP

State data shows that 299 Allegheny County residents have died from COVID-19 so far this month.


That means that one-third of the county’s total COVID fatalities since the start of the pandemic have occurred in December.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The ongoing pandemic coupled with the arrival of winter this week is putting additional strain on people experiencing homelessness and the shelters that serve them.


The Allegheny County Health Department reports that some 4,000 county residents have received their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine.