Science, Health & Tech

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

Allegheny County

The Allegheny County Health Department said on Saturday that there is “community spread” of the coronavirus in the southwestern Pennsylvania region.

GENE J. PUSKAR / AP

Despite directives from state and county health officials, elective surgeries are still being performed at UPMC facilities. 

Medical professionals employed by UPMC, speaking to WESA on condition of anonymity, said this decision may have dire consequences in light of COVID-19’s exponential spread.

While less time sensitive, elective surgeries are often medically necessary; examples include kidney stone removal, hernia repair and shoulder arthroscopy.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

On Sunday, Pittsburgh officially began a paid sick leave policy that guarantees earned time off for any full or part time employees who are sick or caring for sick family members. The policy, which was passed in August 2015 but was delayed because of a lawsuit, is being implemented just as public health experts warn that roughly half of Allegheny County residents are expected to acquire coronavirus over the next couple of months.  

Pennsylvania Confirms First Coronavirus-Related Death

Mar 19, 2020
Gov. Tom Wolf

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration on Wednesday confirmed Pennsylvania’s first death linked to the coronavirus outbreak. The person was an adult from Northampton County and was being treated at a hospital.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Allegheny Health Network is offering drive-through testing for COVID-19 starting Wednesday in Wexford.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: How the state accelerated Pittsburgh Public Schools’ plan to close; why some hospital workers worry they don’t have enough protective gear; what the U.S. Census is doing to mitigate exposure to COVID-19; and a peek into the decision-making process behind public restrictions in Allegheny County.

Tyger Williams / Philadelphia Inquirer

Hospitals across Pennsylvania are drastically limiting the use of key protective gear out of fears that a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases could diminish reserves and cause a dangerous shortage.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

On today's program: A look at the latest stories from the WESA newsroom about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact locally; residential water wells in Pennsylvania are not monitored for potentially dangerous bacteria; a reporter lists the top power players in Harrisburg; and Pittsburgh’s paid sick-leave ordinance comes too late for people affected by the coronavirus.

Governor Orders COVID-19 Shutdown Across Pennsylvania

Mar 16, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

Gov. Tom Wolf extended a shutdown order Monday to the entire state of Pennsylvania in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus, although he also maintained that he will not send the National Guard or state police to force businesses to close or stop events.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

All bars and restaurants in Allegheny County have been ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf to close dine-in facilities for at least two weeks starting Monday morning, to encourage social distancing, which slows the spread of coronavirus. 

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

University of Pittsburgh professor Juan Taboas grew up in Cuba, where he said fixing things is part of the culture. When he was a kid, his grandma had a transistor radio that seemed like it was always breaking.

“I remember being in the … kitchen with my dad and we'd open it up, and were trying to figure out how this circuit board is working and what went wrong,” he said. “That really got me into the whole idea that by fixing you learn.”

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County announced its first two cases of COVID-19 on Saturday afternoon. The two are adults in their 60s and 70s who live in the same household. They are both city of Pittsburgh residents. They are believed to have contracted the virus while traveling out of state.

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

UPMC doctors and scientists developed a test for COVID-19 that will return results in 24 hours. The test, which is conducted using a nasal swab, was created by a UPMC virology team.  

John Minchillo / AP

Jennifer England was waiting to board her flight back home to Pittsburgh when she started to feel sick: a sore throat, a cough, body aches, fever.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County is not following Gov. Tom Wolf’s recommendation that Pennsylvanians cancel and avoid any gatherings larger than 250 people, so as to discourage the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

John Minchillo / AP

  On today's program: What we know right now about how Pittsburgh is preparing for COVID-19, and state health officials aren’t obligated to tell us much about who is infected; an author questions how long the American shale boom will last; BOOM Concepts urges young Pittsburghers to funnel their dreams into art; and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre marks a historic debut performance.

KATIE BLACKLEY / 90.5 WESA

The Pennsylvania Department of Health said Thursday morning the number of positive COVID-19 cases has reached 21.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

Amid nationwide calls for more transparency around the coronavirus pandemic, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has for the first time released some data on testing for coronavirus. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On Wednesday, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of PittsburghDuquesne University, Chatham University, and Robert Morris University announced they are switching all classes to online instruction as the schools prepare for a possible spread of COVID-19

Ariel Worthy / WESA

The city of Pittsburgh has cancelled its annual St. Patrick's Day parade and an anticipated G7 Minister's Summit, out of concern for the spread of COVID-19. It has also halted all domestic and international travel for city employees unless essential. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

UPMC and Allegheny County are being sued after the hospital system allegedly performed urine testing on a woman and her newborn — without the woman’s consent — and then turned over the results to county officials for investigation.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed regulating two PFAS chemicals in drinking water: PFOS and PFOA. Also known as "forever chemicals" due to how difficult it is to clean them up, these compounds are associated with health problems.

LIVE BLOG: Coronavirus In Pittsburgh, March 9-15

Mar 9, 2020
John Minchillo / AP

EDITOR'S NOTE: This blog post covers the events of March 9-13. For the latest on what's happening the week of March 16-20, follow here

News on the coronavirus pandemic, including the responses of local governments, health departments, hospital systems, schools and other institutions.

Matt Rourke / AP

While it’s widely known that breast milk offers babies health benefits, a Carnegie Mellon University researcher says it might also hold the answer to developing a better way for infants to ingest medicines.

Google Street View

Due to the ongoing spread of coronavirus, UPMC is asking people not to visit the health network’s long-term care or skilled-nursing facilities if they are ill or have cold symptoms, even if these symptoms are relatively minor.

Convertsation

Political discourse is widespread on the internet, but online debates aren’t always productive. A group of Carnegie Mellon University students are using artificial intelligence to teach high schoolers how to have productive conversations online.

NIAID-RML via AP

A Montgomery County resident has been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19, state officials said Monday.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA News

The two dominant health insurers in western Pennsylvania are picking up the bill for COVID-19 testing, when recommended by a medical professional.

Pennsylvania Has First Two Presumed Positive Cases Of Coronavirus

Mar 6, 2020
Andre Penner / AP

Pennsylvania has its first two presumed positive cases of coronavirus, one in Delaware County and one in Wayne County, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Friday morning.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Classes were cancelled Friday at five schools in an eastern Pennsylvania school district because some members of its school community were exposed to a confirmed case of the new coronavirus, district officials said.

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