Senate Passes $1.9 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package

Updated at 12:56 p.m. ET The Senate approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan Saturday, securing additional aid for American families, workers and businesses — and a legislative victory for the Biden administration. After more than 24 hours of debate, the evenly divided Senate voted 50-49 to approve the measure. Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska was absent because he was in Alaska for a family funeral. The package delivers a new round of financial assistance to...

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Politics & Government

Matt Slocum / AP

Sharif Street, a Democratic state senator from Philadelphia and the vice chair of the state Democratic Party, said he is considering running for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat in next year’s election.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey said there’s “no justification” for the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package House Democrats passed last week, and that instead of distributing more federal money, the economy should reopen immediately.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Tony Moreno says he expected his social-media history -- which as Pittsburgh City Paper and WTAE have reported includes years-old Tweets supporting Donald Trump and castigating Democrats -- would come back to haunt him. He was, he said, being “bombastic” in an effort to voice his anger over the state of politics. 

Science, Health & Tech

Matt Rourke / AP

COVID-19 case numbers are no longer declining in Allegheny County. The Health Department said Wednesday that the seven day average number of new cases was 170, up from 155 last week.

States Rapidly Expanding Vaccine Access As Supplies Surge

Mar 3, 2021
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Buoyed by a surge in vaccine shipments, states and cities are rapidly expanding eligibility for COVID-19 shots to teachers, 55-and-over Americans and other groups as the U.S. races to beat back the virus and reopen businesses and schools.

Min Xian / WPSU

As the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out unevenly in Pennsylvania, Elk County is a leader in administration of shots. The rural county ranks second in the rate of fully vaccinated residents in the commonwealth, according to the Department of Health’s dashboard Tuesday. 

Education

Jessica Griffin / Philadelphia Inquirer

Vaccination sites for teachers and school support staff will begin operating as soon as next week, Pennsylvania officials said Thursday, while thousands of additional doses will be earmarked for child-care workers through private pharmacy partnerships.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania is aiming to vaccinate roughly 200,000 public and private school employees against the coronavirus by no later than mid-April.

Good Question!

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Why Does Frick Park Have Fire Hydrants?

Frick Park’s 644 acres include extensive hiking trails, hundreds of species of wildlife and old fire hydrants that seem out of place. As stir-crazy Pittsburghers take advantage of the city’s many green spaces, Good Question! askers took notice of the peculiarly-placed manmade objects.

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Identity & Justice

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

It’s illegal to drive all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes on city streets. But Pittsburgh Police claim last summer large groups were often roving through neighborhoods. Now local law enforcement is vowing to, “Put an end to these dangerous and disruptive ride-outs in the city.”

90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani was sued in federal court Tuesday for allegedly barring volunteer court observers from virtually attending hearings in his courtroom.

Development & Transportation

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is on a quest to build a transit system that is equitable, sustainable and improves people’s lives. A new round of public meetings on its long-range plan, NEXTransit, comes at a time of uncertainty and fiscal constraint.

Arts, Sports, & Culture

Steelers, Roethlisberger Agree To New Deal For 2021 Season

Mar 4, 2021
Gene J. Puskar / AP

Ben Roethlisberger is returning for an 18th season with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is taking a pay cut to do it.

Courtesy of FolkLAB

Did you hear the one about winters in Olympia, Washington? They’re even longer, and grayer, than the ones in Pittsburgh!

Environment & Energy

Group Finds Microplastics In Every PA Waterway Tested

Mar 4, 2021
Tommy Link

A new survey finds plastic pollution in every Pennsylvania waterway that was tested across the state.

Revolution Pipeline, Part Of Which Exploded In 2018, Is Back In Service

Mar 3, 2021
Marcellus Air

A pipeline that exploded in 2018 is back in service following an agreement between the company that owns it and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. 

Economy & Business

Glitches In PA Unemployment Program 'A Disaster' For Vulnerable Residents

Mar 4, 2021
Liani Rountree-Crawley

When Janice Roundtree, 58, first enrolled in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, she called it “a miracle.”

Local Headlines

Matt Rourke / AP

One year after the discovery of the first coronavirus case in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday that it has been a tough and trying year, but there is hope and a light at the end of the tunnel with the growing availability of vaccines.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On this week’s Explainer:

Gov. Tom Wolf announced this week that K-12 teachers, child care workers and other school staff will be prioritized for vaccination. The state plans to set aside doses of the newly approved one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for this purpose.

Food & Drink

The pandemic has been tough for Eric Dossekpli. The 49-year-old farmer from Anfoin Avele, a town in the west African country of Togo, had trouble selling his peanuts, black-eyed peas, maize and cassava at the market. Customers couldn't buy much because of their own pandemic income loss. Then he couldn't afford fertilizer to keep growing his crops.

"I didn't know how I was going to buy food, to buy what's needed at home," he says. And with four of his six children in school, he needed to pay for their tuition.

National & International

Department of Defense investigators have identified the remains of U.S. Army chaplain and Catholic priest Emil Kapaun among the unknown Korean War soldiers buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.

It's been a long journey home for the Kansas native who was imprisoned in Korea more than 70 years ago.

Former President Barack Obama told Kapaun's story in 2013.

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