Science, Health & Tech

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

Tim Lambert / WITF

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s public health order intended to slow the spread of coronavirus went into effect Saturday, at a time when some hospitals say their intensive care units are full.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA News

On today's program: Despite the need for testing and contact tracing to combat the pandemic, a physician at a rural hospital in northern Pennsylvania says it’s under-resourced; NPR Morning Edition host David Greene reflects on the Steelers season thus far; and the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association p

Crack'd Egg / Facebook

Allegheny County’s top public health official is telling residents to give the cold shoulder to businesses that refuse to comply with Pennsylvania’s new COVID-19 restrictions.

Dan Speicher / TribLIVE

A state-run psychiatric hospital with a long history of struggling to employ enough workers is now so short-staffed that it risks violating federal requirements for patient care, Spotlight PA has learned.

Gerald Herbert / AP

Pennsylvania will receive an initial shipment of more than 110,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the state Department of Health announced Monday as UPMC began giving the shots to its health workers.

Mark Lennihan / AP

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy are teaming up to call on Congress to pass another coronavirus stimulus bill.

UPMC Livestream

Five UPMC employees were the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Pittsburgh Monday. UPMC received its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine at 9:15 a.m. at Children’s Hospital in Lawrenceville. The first shipment contained 975 doses; the state of Pennsylvania is slated to receive 100 shipments, equaling 97,500 doses total.

Matt Slocum / AP

With daily cases near an all-time high and hospitals pushed to capacity, Pennsylvania is under new orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Matt Slocum / AP

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is widely expected to announce new statewide restrictions on Thursday amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic as he scheduled his first public appearance since his own COVID-19 diagnosis.

Keith Srakocic / AP

On today's program: A professor with the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Vaccine Research explains what’s promising and what’s left to learn about the COVID-19 vaccine; Pittsburgh Public Schools considers how to address a $34 million shortfall in its budget; and the latest in WESA’s Good Question! explains how a banner in Regent Square identifies the time just before Fort Pitt, the city’s namesake was built.

Matt Slocum / AP

Rumors have been circulating for nearly a week that new coronavirus mitigation restrictions in Pennsylavnia would be announced by Governor Tom Wolf. Instead, on Wednesday, Governor Wolf announced that he and members of his security team tested positive for the coronavirus.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf and other top officials again pleaded with the public to stay home during a Monday news conference, citing Pennsylvania's surging coronavirus infections and crowded hospitals.

Matt Rourke / AP

On today's program: The governor’s latest briefing on the pandemic implored residents to take precautions seriously, but health reporter Sarah Boden explains, he made no mention of another lockdown; The State Department of Aging unveils its four-year plan, and how it’s serving older adults in a pandemic; and a former CIA intelligence officer talks about his book that explores the politics of a Pittsburgh labor union.

Kailey Love / 90.5 WESA

UPMC leaders said Tuesday their health network is busy with the rise in COVID-19 cases, but not overwhelmed. In a press conference, senior vice president Leslie Davis said the network is redirecting staffing and equipment resources to hospitals as needed.

Nursing Home Industry: Pennsylvania Illegally Withheld Funds

Dec 8, 2020
Gene J. Puskar / AP

The nursing home industry is suing Pennsylvania, claiming in a filing announced Tuesday that the state illegally withheld more than $150 million that was intended to help long-term care facilities shoulder the financial burden of the coronavirus pandemic.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: An epidemiologist explains why recently released health data for Pittsburgh women and children continues to fall along racial lines; President Donald Trump performed well in Pennsylvania, but it’s unclear if that GOP support will carry beyond his tenure; and a we hear a few suggestions for getting outside, even as the cold weather arrives.

States Submit Vaccine Orders As Coronavirus Death Toll Grows

Dec 4, 2020
David Goldman / AP

States faced a deadline on Friday to place orders for the coronavirus vaccine as many reported record infections, hospitalizations and deaths, while hospitals were pushed to the breaking point — with the worst feared yet to come.

Pennsylvania Hospital Beds Filling Up Amid Virus Surge

Dec 4, 2020
Jeff Roberson / AP

Hospital beds are filling up and medical staffs are being stretched to the limit as Pennsylvania’s health care system copes with a growing number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients." class="wysiwyg-break drupal-content" src="/sites/all/modules/contrib/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif" title="<--break-->">

John Minchillo / AP

Allegheny County passed a depressing milestone on Thursday, reporting more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

A month ago that number seemed distant. 

Matt Rourke / AP

On today's program: After hearing from one nurse executive, we turn to the state nurses association to find out how nurses are coping with burnout; and three years after a devastating spinal cord injury, former Steelers player Ryan Shazier launches a nonprofit to help those with similar injuries.


November was a very bad month for coronavirus infections in Allegheny County.


On today's program: Allegheny Health Network Chief Nurse Executive is urging the public to take responsibility in the pandemic; Lower Hill development won’t break ground until next year, but one developer says the process of getting community buy-in is working; and despite rising COVID-19 cases, a school district outside Philadelphia is reopening.

PA Expands Virus App To School-Age Phone Users

Nov 30, 2020
Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania’s two-month-old coronavirus exposure notification app can now be used by mobile phone users as young as 13 as health officials work to stop the virus' spread in schools around the state, officials said Monday.

Matt Rourke / AP

Contact tracing apps have been lauded as one tool to help contain the spread of COVID-19, but they all require a majority of people to download and use them. As more apps come online, the potential user pool for any one app shrinks. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Long before the coronavirus jumped from an animal to a human to start the global pandemic, western Pennsylvania was already grappling with another health crisis — the drug epidemic.


Case investigators in Allegheny County are keeping up with new coronavirus cases at a higher rate than in other parts of Pennsylvania, but not everyone who tests positive will be contacted by a public health worker.


The Pennsylvania Department of Health is further rationing which coronavirus cases will receive calls from case investigators and contact tracers. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Last call for Pennsylvania bars will be at 5 p.m. on Wednesday to cut COVID-19 transmission during what is normally a night of heavy public drinking, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Citing the rapidly climbing number of coronavirus cases, the Allegheny County Health Department issued a stay-at-home advisory on Wednesday afternoon. 

As cases of COVID-19 continue to skyrocket in Pennsylvania, health officials are stressing the importance of testing and contact tracing. Michael Huff, the state’s director of testing and contact tracing, urged Pennsylvanians to respond to contact tracers investigating a case.