WESA Local News

Jared Murphy / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Council decided not to vote at its meeting Tuesday on whether to enact an emergency bill that would mandate the release of jail inmates charged with low-level crimes.  The bill, which seeks to combat the spread of the new coronavirus behind bars, will instead go to council’s public safety committee for review.

Philly To Buy Laptops For Needy Students For Virtual Classes During Shutdown

Mar 25, 2020
Emma Lee / WHYY

Based on guidance from the federal government, the School District of Philadelphia is proceeding with a plan to offer more rigorous virtual instruction during the coronavirus shutdown —  a reversal from last week when it said equity concerns hampered its ability to provide mandated, graded learning.

Wolf Reopens Gun Shops, Orders More Residents To Stay Home

Mar 24, 2020
Gene J. Puskar / AP

Even as he ordered residents of another county to stay at home, Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday quietly allowed gun shops to reopen on a limited basis during the coronavirus pandemic after several justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court urged him to do so.

Courtesy of Northside Common Ministries

On today's program: How one homeless shelter is coping during the pandemic; why UPMC says elective procedures should proceed, even as resources remain tight; and farmers are declared life-sustaining, but it’s unclear where they can sell their food.

Ed Mahon / PA Post

Josh Juffe drove up to Freedom Armory, where a large sign describes it as “Your Second Amendment Connection,” only to find that the gun store was closed.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Childcare is the most pressing issue next to access to personal protective equipment like masks, says Matt Yarnell the president of the state’s largest union representing health care workers.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A number of COVID-19 testing sites have opened in and around Pittsburgh in the past week. Here’s a list of the sites, and what you need to know before you go.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The post was first published March 24, 2020. If you think something may be wrong, send us an email

State Officials To PA Farmers: 'We Need Local Agriculture Now More Than Ever'

Mar 24, 2020
Courtesy of PASA

On March 16th, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf first ordered restaurants and bars, and all non-essential businesses throughout the state to close, to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. It caused a wave of concern in the food industry: which businesses were considered non-essential? 

Gene Puskar / AP

Local police were prepared to enforce a statewide shutdown order for non-life-sustaining businesses on Monday, but said they generally expected businesses to cooperate.

Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by a gun shop that challenged Gov. Tom Wolf’s authority to shutter businesses determined to be “non-life-sustaining,” paving the way for enforcement to begin Monday.

Wolf Issues Stay-At-Home Order For Hardest-Hit Counties

Mar 23, 2020
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday ordered residents of Pennsylvania's hardest-hit areas to stay home for at least two weeks to help combat the spread of the new coronavirus that has already sickened hundreds and caused six deaths statewide.

Courtesy 412 Food Rescue


On today's program: How a local food waste prevention group is adapting to social distancing; scammers are capitalizing on the coronavirus outbreak; and advice from child psychologists about explaining COVID-19 to children.  

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania has received nearly 10,000 waiver requests from businesses and organizations seeking to remain open while Gov. Tom Wolf’s shutdown order for “non-life sustaining” businesses remains in effect.

LIVE BLOG: Coronavirus In Pittsburgh, March 23-29

Mar 23, 2020
Gene J. Puskar / AP

News on the coronavirus pandemic, including the responses of local governments, health departments, hospital systems, schools and other institutions. For information from the previous week, click here

For information the week of March 30 - April 3, click here.

Helpful coronavirus links:

Photo by Cheryl DeBono Michaelangelos / Courtesy of Flatiron Books

Eliese Goldbach didn’t start out with “steel-mill worker” as a life-goal.

Growing up in Cleveland, in the 1990s, she wanted to be a nun.

Mariner East Construction Shut Down By Governor's Order

Mar 22, 2020
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Following a day of confusion for residents living along the Mariner East pipeline in Delaware and Chester counties, pipeline builder Energy Transfer says construction of the line will shut down due to Gov. Tom Wolf’s order closing all non-essential operations in the state because of the coronavirus pandemic. Emergency repair work will continue.

Allegheny County

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


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.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb has called for President Trump to use presidential war powers to produce more ventilators and other supplies needed to fight the coronavirus. But by Friday afternoon, it wasn't clear whether Trump would do so. Lamb said using the Defense Production Act could help drastically ramp up the creation of masks, ventilators, and other equipment needed to tackle the fast spreading coronavirus.

Matt Rourke / AP

Taking care of yourself and your family can be difficult during an outbreak. But if you find that you have the energy and ability to pitch in, here are some ways you can help the Pittsburgh community fight against COVID-19.

Food Banks

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Democratic Allegheny County Councilors Liv Bennett and Bethany Hallam plan to introduce emergency legislation next week to slash the county’s jail population, the latest effort to mitigate the spread of coronavirus behind bars.

Ariel Worthy / WESA

Pittsburgh public safety officials said they have taken extra measures to protect emergency responders as the city combats the spread of the coronavirus. Among the tactics: limiting the interaction between police and the public by having officers respond in person only to more serious calls, and handling the rest through a telephone reporting unit.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Going a little stir crazy? Pittsburgh residents can take a break from idle time and work-from-home routines and get to know the city’s history while taking a stroll. Here’s a guide to one of a number of upcoming tours WESA is compiling for history lovers throughout the region.

Wolf Retrenches Sweeping Order, Amid Complaints, Lawsuits

Mar 20, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

Under fire from business groups and Republican lawmakers and facing lawsuits over a broad shutdown order designed to slow the spreading coronavirus, Gov. Tom Wolf's administration defended its actions as critical to preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed, but it also made a series of concessions.

Ed Mahon / PA Post

Child care providers across Pennsylvania face a choice in response to the state’s efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus: Close their doors, or seek permission to stay open.

Both options present risks.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday ordered all child care centers licensed by the state to close for at least 14 days. Initially, the order left providers “confused, frustrated and afraid,” said Diane Barber, executive director of the Pennsylvania Child Care Association.

Mt. Lebanon School District

Most Pennsylvania kids will be home for at least another week to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. New routines and new expectations could lead to a lot of questions and anxieties.

Governor Orders 1000s Of Businesses To Shut Down Over Virus

Mar 19, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

Gov. Tom Wolf issued a sweeping shutdown order to tens of thousands of “non-life-sustaining” businesses Thursday, decreeing they must close their physical locations by 8 p.m. to slow the spread of the coronavirus or face enforcement by state police and other government agencies.

Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and its board on Thursday passed measures to support people and businesses suffering financially because of the coronavirus. A new program that aims to keep people in their homes was among the approvals.

PA Cancels Standardized Testing Because Of Coronavirus

Mar 19, 2020
Seth Perlman / AP

The extraordinary decision to close schools statewide due to the coronavirus outbreak has prompted Pennsylvania to make another extraordinary decision:

The state will not administer standardized tests this year.