Science, Health & Tech

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

Delphi COVIDcast / Carnegie Mellon University

New data from Carnegie Mellon University allows users to see the percentage of people who wear masks in their county. COVIDcast, which already localized collected data about coronavirus activity, began asking survey respondents about face coverings and test access last month. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

Though cases of the coronavirus are increasing in Allegheny County, it’s far less severe here compared to what’s occurring at the state and national level.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania is “at the start of the fall resurgence” of COVID-19, the health secretary said Wednesday, urging residents once more to take steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Johnson & Johnson / Via AP

A Carnegie Mellon University researcher is part of a national committee that recently produced a report on the equitable distribution of a coronavirus vaccine.

Google Earth

One-hundred-and-five residents at an Allegheny County-run nursing home have been infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of September.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Since the beginning of September there have been 300 cases of the coronavirus among children, ages zero to 18, according to the Allegheny County Health Department.


New, more relaxed rules on crowd sizes go into effect on Friday in Pennsylvania, with the caveat that these restrictions might be tightened if case investigation shows that events or gatherings are becoming a source of increased outbreaks.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Health Department says that college and university students comprise roughly 15 percent of September’s coronavirus cases.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine discussed the importance of health care access during a pandemic, as well as the concerns for a spike in the fall, during a press conference Wednesday.

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

Ashley Taylor could have gotten special permission to visit her grandfather when he entered hospice this spring. But she has an autoimmune disorder, and didn’t feel comfortable visiting a nursing home, many of which have been plagued by the coronavirus. 

Annie Lindsay / Carnegie Museum of Natural History

A rare bird has been found at Powdermill Nature Reserve in Westmoreland County.

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University is sending another rover to the moon in 2022. MoonRanger, developed with CMU spinoff Astrobotic, will explore the region around the lunar South Pole in search of ice.

PA's Failure To Mandate Quicker Death Reporting Before COVID-19 Fueled Data Fluctuations, Mistrust

Sep 24, 2020
Dan Nott / Spotlight PA

For years, Pennsylvania has had a hard time counting its dead.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA


On today's program: The long-lasting impacts of redlining are still felt in some Pittsburgh neighborhoods; the Pittsburgh Art Commission plans to debate the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in Schenley Park; and Puerto Ricans living in Pennsylvania after being displaced by Hurricane Maria look forward to voting in the U.S. presidential election. 

Pennsylvania Launches New Virus Exposure Notification App

Sep 22, 2020
Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania's new coronavirus exposure notification app became available in app stores Tuesday could soon be compatible with those of three neighboring states, including New York.


University of Pittsburgh and UPMC researchers plan to start human trials early next year for an antibody therapy that might both prevent and treat COVID-19.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Most epidemiologists and other health officials agree it is best not to travel right now. But for those planning to pack up and head out, there are some universal precautions to consider and advice about where to go. 

Kalim Bhatti / The Philadelphia Inquirer

Eight years ago, as the state was still recovering from the fallout of a severe economic recession, lawmakers in Harrisburg cut $84 million that counties used to fund programs for people with intellectual disabilities, mental health challenges, and other needs.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center has released 3D anatomical data and genetic sequences of tissues from seven organs, including the heart, kidney, and small and large intestines.

Min Xian / WPSU

The number of cases of COVID-19 in Centre County shot up by 184 Wednesday, in a spike that overshadows all previous increases and will likely raise questions in the community about whether Penn State can contain the spread among students.


Pittsburgh-based biotech company CytoAgents is launching into phase one of clinical trials this month on a drug designed to treat people with COVID-19 who develop serious respiratory distress when their immune system overreacts to the virus.

Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP/file

Pennsylvania’s largest medical system reports that its COVID-19 patients are experiencing better outcomes than what was seen at the start of the pandemic, though it’s not clear why this is occurring.


Data from the Allegheny County Health Department show that racial disparities in COVID-19 cases increased after the early summer surge of infections.

Dan Nott / Spotlight PA

During the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic, the public had no way to measure which Pennsylvania nursing homes were hardest hit.


Out of more than 1,000 tests, there were just 14 new cases of COVID-19 reported Wednesday in Allegheny County. That is the lowest daily case count in more than two months.


In early July, Talia Landerman decided to get a coronavirus test.  

This was when Allegheny County was reporting nearly 200 cases of COVID-19 daily. Landerman works in an office and both her parents are over 60, so she wanted to be sure she wasn't an asymptomatic carrier. 

Keith Srakocic / AP


On today's program: Critics say mixed messages and botched communication could have worsened the coronavirus pandemic; parents scramble to find childcare and learning assistance for their school-aged children; and nature organizations reach out to Black environmentalists. 

screen grab

The pandemic has created plenty of questions about voting logistics ahead of the November election, but a voting rights group is using data to take some of the guesswork out of election day.

Tim Tai / Philadelphia Inquirer

“Do I have COVID-19?”

In Pennsylvania and across the country, coronavirus test results are sometimes taking weeks to come back. Those delays are frustrating for those who might be sick, and just plain unacceptable to state officials.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Gatherings at concert halls and stadiums are still widely limited to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But a Wexford-based startup thinks it has one way to get people back to these venues sooner: an electrostatic drone capable of blanketing high contact surfaces in disinfectant.