Science, Health & Tech

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

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

The University of Pittsburgh will lead a consortium of institutions to study how autonomous vehicles can be made accessible to those with physical disabilities. The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the school a $1 million grant last week. The department awarded grants to four new University Transportation Centers to advance research and education programs that address transportation challenges. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania health officials on Monday reported no new deaths attributed to COVID-19 for the first time in more than four months.

Courtesy of BeamData

An app launching this week from Pittsburgh startup BeamData aims to provide people with a direct line to their elected officials. Be the Change allows a user to create a profile that automatically generates a list of representatives based on their home address. From there, people can check out posts in their neighborhood about issues and upvote or downvote posts, similar to Reddit.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is hiring 1,000 additional contract tracers to bolster the state’s efforts to contain coronavirus outbreaks by quickly notifying people who might have been exposed.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

 Pennsylvania health officials on Thursday reported 860 additional cases of the coronavirus, and 14 new deaths.


Bars and restaurants still top the list of the most common places visited by people in Allegheny County prior to testing positive for COVID-19. But county data show that compared to previous weeks, the number of visits to these venues has fallen.

Universal Testing Complete At PA Nursing Homes

Jul 28, 2020
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Health Secretary Rachel Levine said Thursday that all skilled nursing facilities have now complied with a state order to test all staff and residents for COVID-19. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the third time in less than a week and the sixth time this month as some regions of the state continue to see rising case numbers.

Hans Pennink / AP


On today's program: A possible COVID-19 vaccine moves into Phase 3 trials, but it could be another minimum of six months until Americans get the drug; the chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is pushing for a system-wide redesign; and a brief history of the Pittsburgh left. 

Courtesy of Wendy Gilch

With fewer child care options and health and safety concerns, getting work done at home while also keeping an eye on her two children has been a struggle for Wendy Gilch.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

It’s getting harder to get tested for COVID-19 without symptoms in the Pittsburgh region. The Allegheny County Health Department suggests people who think they may have been exposed but are not experiencing symptoms skip the test and instead quarantine for 14 days.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA


On today's program: PWSA and elected officials announced the lead levels in water are now in compliance with EPA and DEP requirements; on the 30th anniversary of the ADA, advocates and activists look to the  future; and a new grant program will help minority business owners in Pennsylvania struggling due to the coronavirus. 

Inside One PA County’s Effort To Stay ‘Hot On The Trail’ Of Every COVID-19 Case

Jul 22, 2020
Emma Lee / WHYY

One of the most powerful tools in fighting the coronavirus is a spreadsheet.

Every morning, Montgomery County contact tracer Neil Lader opens one up on his home computer, and delves into another day of chasing down the virus.

State's High Court: Mental Health Doctors Have Duty To Warn

Jul 21, 2020
Keith Srakocic / AP

Mental health professionals have a duty to warn of threats made by patients even if they are made against an unspecified person, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said in a split opinion Tuesday.

Carolyn Kaster / AP


On today's program: People with disabilities are still facing new challenges 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act; the economy is opening but experts say some industries are adapting to the “new normal” better than others; and a Chambersburg Post Office shows how COVID-19 safety precautions that got wrapped up in election-year politics.

Matt Rourke / AP

At least two workers at the U.S. Post Office in Chambersburg have refused to wear face masks, in defiance of state Health Department Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine’s order requiring masks in businesses and public places. The state can’t enforce that order because the post office is a federal entity.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania reported 700 new coronavirus infections Monday, along with three additional deaths.


Though people in Allegheny County continue to die from COVID-19, data from the state and county show these deaths have not kept pace with the county's spike of positive cases. But there are severe health consequences not captured by this data.

David Zalubowski / AP

Despite mitigation efforts by the county to bring down surging coronavirus cases in Pittsburgh, new cases continued to be tallied in the triple digits this week. Officials blame a testing backlog for Tuesday’s record-setting 331 new reported cases

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania reported 781 new coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing the statewide total to more than 98,000 as new, statewide pandemic restrictions took effect.

Sarah Boden

Due to the recent spike in coronavirus infections, the Allegheny County Health Department on Wednesday announced it has changed its recommendations for testing in order to meet demand.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania recorded more than 900 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, though health officials said nearly one-quarter of those were the result of a delay in lab reporting.

Hospitals Not Challenged Amid Rising Cases, Health Secretary Says

Jul 14, 2020
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's hospital system is not challenged at the moment by a recent rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, and the Department of Health is not considering any new restrictions at the moment, Gov. Tom Wolf’s top health official said Monday.

John Minchillo / AP

As coronavirus cases in the United States soar, Pennsylvania’s numbers show reason for caution, said health officials on Monday.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

When Bria Davis takes her 2 ½-year-old daughter Peyton to the grocery store or other public places, she often wears a little cloth mask adorned with two cats and the word “cute.” Davis tries to keep those outings to a minimum though, because keeping the mask on Peyton can be a challenge.

Seth Wenig / AP

Recent high school graduates are facing a myriad of challenges in light of the coronavirus pandemic.  Travel is restricted for those who had wanted to go abroad for a gap year. For some, lost income makes it impossible to afford college tuition. Others have safety concerns about living and studying on campus.

Gerald Herbert / AP

More than 220 children and teens in Allegheny County have been diagnosed with COVID-19, which is more than three times the number from just one month ago.

Jessie Wardarski / AP

Pennsylvania on Friday reported its highest one-day total of confirmed coronavirus cases since May, breaking 1,000, although some of the test results, 175, were reported on a delay.

Jessie Wardarski / AP

Pennsylvania on Friday reported its highest one-day total of confirmed coronavirus cases since May, breaking 1,000, although some of the test results, 175, were reported on a delay.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

UPMC says its positivity rate for tests among asymptomatic patients remains at 0.27 percent.