Science, Health & Tech

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

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

One of the biggest challenges for contact tracing apps aimed at fighting COVID-19 is a lack of participation – and distrust in Western Pennsylvania appears to run particularly high, thanks in no small part to partisan feelings. But a team at Carnegie Mellon University thinks it can inspire greater buy-in with a new approach that helps users to prevent infection in the first place.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania is strengthening its mask mandate and will require out-of-state travelers to test negative for the coronavirus before arrival, health officials announced Tuesday, taking additional steps to address a sharp increase in infections and hospitalizations.

Courtesy: Charissa Sedor, Buhl Planetarium

The Carnegie Science Center’s Buhl Planetarium is promising visitors an enhanced experience of what it’s like to travel into the far reaches of the galaxy thanks to the completion of phase one of a multi-million dollar renovation project.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The coronavirus pandemic didn’t create the digital divide, but it did shine a spotlight on it. With so many students attending class online, one local collaboration is aiming to provide free, high-speed internet access in the Coraopolis, Homewood and New Kensington areas. The signal will beam from atop the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland. 

Kathy Young / AP

Over the weekend, Pennsylvania reported 10,000 new cases of the coronavirus, continuing a surge of infections that shows no sign of slowing down.

Keith Srakocic / AP


On today's program: COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County continue to rise; federal and state authorities are investigating the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center where 82 residents have died during the pandemic; and a preview of a new WESA podcast, Land and Power.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA News

As COVID-19 cases spike across Pennsylvania, the state Department of Health says members of the public are increasingly reluctant to cooperate with contact tracers – and local public health workers say they are also encountering greater push back.

Serious COVID-19 Outbreak Threatens Hundreds At PA Prison For Medically Vulnerable

Nov 11, 2020
Joshua Vaughn / The Appeal

A serious coronavirus outbreak is unfolding inside the Pennsylvania prison facility for medically vulnerable inmates diagnosed with cancer or other health problems, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are urgently pushing for a release plan.

John Dillard / UPMC

Hospitals around the county are getting slammed with surges of COVID-19 patients.

The situation is not as dire in Pennsylvania, but as the state continues to see record-breaking coronavirus case numbers on a near daily basis, that could change.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Nights are getting longer, temperatures colder, and the spread of the coronavirus is accelerating across Pennsylvania.

90.5 WESA is following the latest updates and COVID-19 case numbers in Allegheny County and across Pennsylvania. 

We'll be updating this post as we get information. Check back often for updates. 

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania


On today's program: The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported another record high number of COVID-19 cases this past weekend; and Democrats won the presidency, but didn’t fare as well on down ballot races.


Open enrollment is now underway for Pennsylvanians looking to purchase health insurance coverage for 2021. But instead of the federal marketplace people will be shopping on Pennie, the new state-run exchange.

Gov. Tom Wolf Flickr

As new coronavirus cases explode, Pennsylvania’s top health official on Monday warned the state is at a “critical point” in the pandemic and begged recalcitrant residents to wear masks, avoid congregating and take other simple preventative measures to slow the spread.

Here's Who In PA Will Get A Coronavirus Vaccine First When One Is Approved

Nov 5, 2020
Jose F. Moreno / Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania health officials still cannot say when a coronavirus vaccine will be available, but plans for how one will be distributed and who will get it first are coming into focus.


As the weather gets colder and coronavirus cases continue to climb, Allegheny County’s top public health official says people must change their behavior.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA News

Poll worker Paul Dascani will be spending Election Day at St. Rosalia’s, a nearly 100-year-old Catholic church in Pittsburgh’s Greenfield neighborhood. He decided to volunteer this year because of COVID-19.


Halloween will offer a special treat for stargazers this year. For the first time since 1944, a full moon will be visible on October 31 in Pittsburgh and across all U.S. time zones, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. It will also be a Blue Moon, which happens when there are two full moons in one month. The first was on October 1.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

Despite the horrors of COVID-19, trick-or-treating in 2020 probably won’t be too different compared to previous years.

Matt Rourke / AP

The coronavirus is spreading throughout all corners of Allegheny County.

Matt Rourke / AP


On today's program: Hospitalizations for COVID-19 cases are rising, but an infectious disease expert says hospitals in the Pittsburgh region aren’t stretched too thin; Riverlife is looking for public suggestions on how to fill the gaps in the loop connecting the city’s riverfronts; and a preview of a local House race where a long-term incumbent is facing a stiff challenge.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

More than 1,100 patients in Pennsylvania are hospitalized with the coronavirus, up from 841 last week.

Fewer Virus Patients Aiding Pennsylvania Case Investigators

Oct 26, 2020
Gene J. Puskar / AP

A growing majority of people contracting the coronavirus in Pennsylvania are not answering basic questions that would help case investigators trace the source of the infections, Pennsylvania health officials said Monday.

The rising lack of cooperation with case investigators comes as Pennsylvania's positivity rate, number of infections and coronavirus-related hospitalizations are on the rise.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania reported its largest daily total of new coronavirus cases on Friday, as an additional 2,219 Pennsylvanians have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A large, for-profit Pennsylvania nursing home where dozens of residents died of COVID-19 was sued Wednesday over allegations that it failed to take basic steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.


The strong resurgence of coronavirus cases that’s been seen in other parts of U.S. has reached western Pennsylvania.

Google Street View

A federal indictment from a Pittsburgh grand jury accuses Russian intelligence officers of perpetrating a malware attack against Heritage Valley Health System three years ago.  

Pennsylvania Has Confirmed Its First COVID-19 Positive Cat

Oct 20, 2020
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The case was reported by state veterinarian Dr. Kevin Brightbill. He said the 16-year-old feline lived in a household with multiple people who’d been infected with COVID-19, and was humanely euthanized earlier this month after presenting with respiratory distress.

Lewis Joly / AP

While the world waits for a safe and effective inoculation, this year’s flu shot can serve as a sort of dress rehearsal for when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available. That’s because everyone, from the very young to the very old, should get vaccinated in a relatively short amount of time.


Pennsylvania is reporting 1,857 new COVID-19 cases, the second-highest daily total since the beginning of pandemic, days after officials said the commonwealth was seeing a “fall resurgence" of the coronavirus.