WESA Daily Briefing

Latest: Pennsylvania Education Secretary takes a new job. Allegheny County reports 132 new COVID-19 cases. Four Democratic state Senators propose suspending per-diem allowance for officials.

Courtesy of Arcade Comedy Theater

Comedy Theater Offers Pittsburgh's First Outdoor Performance Series During The Pandemic

For nearly five months, the coronavirus pandemic has confined Pittsburgh’s performing-arts groups almost exclusively to online programming. Even after state rules loosened to allow performance halls to operate at reduced capacity, most decided it was unsafe or simply impractical to do so.

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Politics & Government

PA Cancels On Volunteer Coronavirus Contact Tracers, Moves To Hire 1,000 Paid Staff

6 hours ago
Dan Nott / For Spotlight PA

The Pennsylvania Health Department last week abruptly canceled a session to train volunteers to trace the contacts of people infected with the coronavirus, a critical practice in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Kate Landis / PA Post

The Pennsylvania Department of State on Saturday released a report on the June 2 presidential primary that includes recommendations for revamping the state’s election code ahead of the November general election.

Pennsylvania To Cover Cost Of Stamps For Ballots In Election

Jul 31, 2020
Alan Diaz / AP

Pennsylvania will foot the cost of postage for voters to mail in ballots in November's general election, officials said Friday, a move that Gov. Tom Wolf has made a priority as the coronavirus pandemic unexpectedly fueled high interest in voting by mail under a new state law.

Science, Health & Tech

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

The University of Pittsburgh will lead a consortium of institutions to study how autonomous vehicles can be made accessible to those with physical disabilities. The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the school a $1 million grant last week. The department awarded grants to four new University Transportation Centers to advance research and education programs that address transportation challenges. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania health officials on Monday reported no new deaths attributed to COVID-19 for the first time in more than four months.

Identity & Justice

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

“A matter of life and death.” That was the message demonstrators conveyed Friday afternoon during a march and rally through downtown for non-discrimination protections of LGBTQ people.

Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania is one of three states featured in a new report that details how probation and parole have swelled U.S. prison populations by “often [setting] people up to fail.” 

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

In the last week, Pittsburgh police have charged several leaders of local ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests. Those charged include Christian Carter, Nique Craft and Dena Stanley.

Education

Wolf Ed Head Takes New Job As Schools Grapple With Reopening

2 hours ago
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's education secretary announced Tuesday he will be leaving the job to take another position, as schools throughout the state are scrambling to develop and implement pandemic reopening plans.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools' nearly 23,000 students will not return to classrooms for the first nine weeks of the year.

Craig Mitchelldyer / AP

In a virtual hearing Wednesday evening, Pittsburgh Public Schools administrators heard public comment about a proposal to start the school year exclusively online instead of a hybrid model that would include some in-person instruction. The majority of statements were in favor of the remote-only model.

Good Question!

Archives & Special Collections / University of Pittsburgh Library System

Aqueducts, Inclines And Mules: How The Pennsylvania Canal Changed The Commonwealth

Before highways and railroads crisscrossed the commonwealth, a series of linked waterways and inclined planes brought people and goods across the state. The Pennsylvania Canal was a significant engineering achievement when it was constructed in 1826.

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Development & Transportation

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The coronavirus pandemic upended commuting patterns in the Pittsburgh region. In the early months of Pennsylvania’s shutdown, traffic dropped by as much as 50 percent in Allegheny County, according to Streetlight Data. On average, PennDOT officials say vehicular traffic remains about 20 percent lower than normal.


Pittsburgh developed from a hodgepodge of former boroughs and municipalities, and its hills and river valleys prevented planners from creating a traditional street grid. These factors make the city difficult to navigate in a vehicle. On top of that, local drivers have some idiosyncratic behaviors. 

Arts, Sports, & Culture

Courtesy of Arcade Comedy Theater

For nearly five months, the coronavirus pandemic has confined Pittsburgh’s performing-arts groups almost exclusively to online programming. Even after state rules loosened to allow performance halls to operate at reduced capacity, most decided it was unsafe or simply impractical to do so.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

On Wednesday, union members at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette said they would decide whether to approve a strike. More than 120 members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh will cast secret ballots by mail in the coming days to decide whether the newsroom employees should strike.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

For years, it served as a kind of gateway to Wilkinsburg: a colorful mural depicting community members that spanned a railroad overpass on Penn Avenue, on the western edge of the borough’s business district.

Environment & Energy

Rising Seas Put Hundreds Of Superfund Sites At Risk, Study Says

10 hours ago
Randall Chase / AP

More than 200 current and potential Superfund sites in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are at risk of flooding in the next 20 years due to sea level rise, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Green Stimulus Proposal Calls For Departure From Legislative Business As Usual

Jul 29, 2020
Tim Lambert / WITF

As lawmakers debate how to help Pennsylvania’s economy recover from the coronavirus shutdown, environmental groups see an opening for a cleaner future.

Economy & Business

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Sitting in a grassy lot along Braddock’s main avenue, Jona Reyes dreams of restoring the energy that she says once coursed through the neighborhood. Since steel’s decline more than 30 years ago, the Mon Valley community has suffered from chronic disinvestment.

Local Headlines

Erin Keane Scott / 90.5 WESA

News on the coronavirus pandemic, protests, 2020 election and more from around Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and southwestern Pennsylvania. 

Find all of the WESA Daily Briefing posts here

Editor's note: This post will be frequently updated with the latest news.

 

1:30 p.m. - Pennsylvania Education Secretary takes a new job

Erin Keane Scott / 90.5 WESA

News on the coronavirus pandemic, protests, 2020 election and more from around Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and southwestern Pennsylvania. 

Find all of the WESA Daily Briefing posts here

Editor's note: This post will be frequently updated with the latest news.

 

4:55 p.m. - Walmart to provide drive-thru COVID-19 testing throughout the state 

Food & Drink

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

“Panic mode.” “Evolve to survive.” “Downsize.” 

 

That's how owners and workers at local bars and restaurants have described the last few months, as they struggled to keep their businesses afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic. They say that recent changes to customer capacity and other safety protocols have made this time even more difficult to navigate.

National & International

Officials in Florida say cases of the coronavirus are continuing to decline, an indication that efforts to halt the spread of the disease are working. In Miami-Dade County, Mayor Carlos Gimenez told commissioners Tuesday, "I am pleased to announce it appears we have leveled off."

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