Shutdowns, Changes Becoming Fact of Local Life

March 30, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Duquesne News, McKeesport and Region News, White Oak News

CORRECTION: McKeesport city officials said the public is being asked not to attend Wednesday’s council meeting for social distancing reasons. We apologize for the error.

This story was edited after publication.

Port Vue (above), North Huntingdon Twp. and White Oak are among local municipalities that have closed playgrounds as well as basketball and tennis courts to discourage groups from congregating. (Tube City Almanac photo)


Although playgrounds are closed and police have been needed for traffic control outside of crowded banks and supermarkets, life during the coronavirus pandemic is continuing in Mon-Yough communities.

But shutdowns, closures and restrictions are expected to remain a fact of life continue well into the spring, and possibly the summer.

Some communities are canceling municipal meetings, while others are moving them online and inviting the public to participate.

On Monday, Allegheny County officials announced that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is doubling every three days. There are now 290 cases and 38 people currently hospitalized, county officials said.

There were 158 confirmed cases on Friday.

 
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AIU Forum Targets School Funding Reforms

March 30, 2020 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Jon Delano of KDKA-TV moderated a March 12 forum on public education at Allegheny Intermediate Unit. Speakers included State Sen. Jim Brewster, state Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa Jr., and state Rep. Dan Miller. (Richard Finch Jr. photo for Tube City Almanac)


On the night before Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all K-12 schools shut down, legislators at a forum in Homestead said the state law governing charter schools is out-of-date and unfair to public school systems.

Frank Dalmas, superintendent of Sto-Rox schools, told the audience at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit that coronavirus wasn’t the biggest threat to his district — charter schools are.

The problem is in the hands of state legislators, he said. “What are you going to do to help solve this problem?” Dalmas asked Democratic legislators who also attended the event on March 12. “Is it your caucus? Is it the Republican caucus? Is it because the charter school lobby is so powerful and strong that you guys can’t come up against it?”

 
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Two COVID-19 Cases at Glen Hazel Kane Center

March 27, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Two residents of the county’s skilled-nursing facility in Glen Hazel have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Friday.

Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs said both residents of the Kane Community Living Center were tested after they were running fevers that could not be explained. They remain at the facility in isolation, she said.

On Wednesday, the Glen Hazel center reported that an employee had tested positive for COVID-19.

The employee in question did not have any direct contact with residents and had not worked since March 19, said Dennis Biondo, director of the county's four Kane Community Living Centers, which include the McKeesport facility at the foot of Ninth Avenue.

 
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COVID-19 Cases Increase, Mon Valley Not Spared

March 27, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Source: Allegheny County Health Department)


Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in several Mon-Yough area communities, and public health officials said now is not the time to become complacent.

“Everyone is at risk of this disease,” said Dr. LuAnn Brink, chief epidemiologist for the Allegheny County Health Department. “There’s no immunity. There is community spread at this point. So please, stay six feet away from everyone and assume everyone has it. And protect yourself by, first off, staying home.”

On Friday, Allegheny County officials said there are now 158 confirmed cases, with 25 people hospitalized. There have been two deaths attributed to COVID-19 including a woman from Greenfield and a man from Clairton.

 
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Grocery Coping With Shortages During Pandemic

March 27, 2020 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Dino DiGaegory and Rich Kugler, behind the deli counter at Lampert’s Market on Eden Park Boulevard. The meat case is fully stocked, though the Kuglers say they never know what's going to be delivered due to supplier shortages. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)


Large chain grocery stores are facing difficulties while social distancing is required during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many stores are quickly running out of high demand products and customers have been posting empty shelf images on their social media.

A well-known family-owned business, Lampert’s Fine Meats and Deli near Renziehausen Park, is also experiencing uncertainty. Jan and Rick Kugler have owned their business almost 40 years and said for the first time, they have to limit amounts purchased from their suppliers.

They order from at least six different suppliers and each supplier has cut items on delivery, sometimes in half and sometimes completely, Jan Kugler said. They never know what will be delivered until they unload, she said.

 
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Duquesne Area Residents Respond
to Pandemic Challenge

March 25, 2020 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: Duquesne News

Duquesne area residents have rallied to one another’s assistance after the coronavirus pandemic caused schools to close and businesses to suspend operations.

Mayor Nickole Nesby said a significant number of residents reached out to city hall and local community groups after the COVID-19 virus was identified in Allegheny County — some asking what they can do to help, others asking what type of help they can receive.

Along with Take Action Mon Valley director Fawn Walker-Montgomery and other volunteers, Nesby has been helping to deliver toiletries, food and other donated items gathered from a drop-off site in the city hall parking lot.

 
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Mayor: Duquesne Council Meeting Canceled,
Officer Tested for Coronavirus

March 25, 2020 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: Duquesne News

Duquesne Mayor Nickole Nesby has declared a state of emergency in the city, calling the novel coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 “a threat to public health and safety, with the potential to cause serious illness or loss of life.”

The proclamation does not require city council approval but was reviewed by Solicitor Myron Sainovich at Nesby’s request.

“I wanted to make sure that I’m doing things right, and the solicitor is here to advise city council and the mayor on what is correct and what can and can’t be done,” Nesby said. “I asked Mr. Sainovich to give me the legal aspect before I released it.”

Other municipalities have made similar declarations. The emergency declaration was important if funding for coronavirus and COVID-19 response is available, and the city needs to be reimbursed, Nesby said.

 
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City Native Recalls Glory Days of Pittsburgh Courier

March 24, 2020 |

By Ann Belser | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Photo by Ann Belser for East End Print)


Diane I. Daniels had always wanted to work for the Pittsburgh Courier.

It was the paper that changed the civil rights conversation: an African American newspaper that was so controversial, that in the 1920s and 1930s, Pullman porters would hide it in the train and then deliver it to specific ministers down south so that segregationists would not seize the copies and burn them.

All of the great Black intellectuals had written for the Courier in its heyday.

Daniels, a McKeesport native who is now a freelance business writer for the New Pittsburgh Courier, spoke about her experience trying to get a job at the New Pittsburgh Courier following a screening of the 2009 documentary “Newspaper of Record: The Pittsburgh Courier 1907-1965.”

 
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Port Authority Reducing Transit Service

March 23, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements

A Port Authority maintenance worker disinfects surfaces on a bus. (Photo courtesy Port Authority of Allegheny County)


Port Authority of Allegheny County will reduce bus and light-rail service on more than 70 routes due to “substantial decreases in ridership” and operational challenges brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic, a spokesman said.

Routes being affected in the McKeesport area include 56 McKeesport via Second Avenue, 61C McKeesport via Homestead, the P7 McKeesport Flyer and the P76 Lincoln Highway Flyer.

With many offices and businesses closed to the public, and universities and colleges moving to online-only classes, Port Authority’s ridership has plummeted more than 50 percent in the past two weeks, the agency said.

 
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Allegheny Co. Residents Told ‘Stay Home,’
School Closures Extended to April 6

March 23, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf addressed members of the news media via closed-circuit camera from his home. (Tube City Almanac photo)


Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all Allegheny County residents to stay home until further notice except for essential, necessary trips.

At a press conference Monday afternoon, Wolf also extended the shutdown of all K-12 schools for another two weeks, beginning Tuesday and continuing through at least April 6.

The new measures are necessary to slow down the spread of the coronavirus pandemic as cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania are increasing by 100 percent every two days.

“The line is essentially going straight up,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health.

 
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Churches Face Reduced Services Through Lent

March 22, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Many churches will be empty during this Lenten season as concerns about the worldwide spread of novel coronavirus has led spiritual leaders to recommend the faithful limit large worship services. (File photo by E.I. Sanchez via Flickr)


For many Christians, the Fourth Sunday of Lent — 21 days before Easter Sunday — is known as Laetare Sunday, and is a day to rejoice during Christianity’s most solemn season.

But today, many churches throughout the Pittsburgh area were empty, or nearly empty.

Last week, the Roman Catholic and Episcopal bishops of Pittsburgh cancelled all public in-person worship in their dioceses as part of their response to the worldwide pandemic of novel coronavirus. They encouraged worshippers to gather online or to pray in their homes.

On Monday, the Most Rev. David Zubik, Catholic bishop of Pittsburgh, cancelled all public Masses in the diocese until further notice. All other activities — including Friday fish frys held by many parishes — also were ordered cancelled.

 
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Romanian Church Closed Due to COVID-19

March 22, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements

St. Mary Romanian Byzantine Catholic Church, 318 26th Ave., will be closed to all public activities until further notice, a spokesman said.

The closure of St. Mary’s and all Romanian Catholic churches in the United States was decreed by the Most Rev. John Michael Botean, eparch of the Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St George’s in Canton, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

When activities are resumed, they will be announced at Tube City Almanac and on Facebook, the spokesman said. Parishioners who have concerns or questions should call the rectory at (412) 673-5552.

 

W.N. Lions Plan Take-Out Only Fish Fry

March 22, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements, West Newton News

The West Newton Lions Club will hold a take-out only fish fry from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Good Friday, April 10.

A spokeswoman said the event will be cash-only and will be conducted at the Lions Field House, 511 Pittsburgh St.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, customers may call ahead at (724) 972-3779 and drive around to the back of the building to pickup their orders from their car windows.

Delivery in West Newton is also available.

 
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Steel Valley, Salvation Army Distribute Food
to Students for Weekends

March 22, 2020 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Teacher Ryan Dunmire-Kuftic and student. (Richard Finch Jr. photo, special to Tube City Almanac)


The Steel Valley School District has been distributing more than 260 “grab ’n go” meals to its 1,350 students each weekday since the beginning of the school year. 

Beginning Friday, the “Love In A Backpack” program began providing food for the weekends as well.

More than 300 backpacks of free food were distributed to students at Steel Valley High School and Barrett Elementary School on Friday, according to District Superintendent Edward Wehrer.

Despite the statewide school shutdown for the coronavirus pandemic, Steel Valley has joined other districts in continuing to offer free school lunches for students in need. Food is available for pick-up at Steel Valley High School and Barrett Elementary School, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, Monday through Friday.

School counselor Alyson Fisher said in addition to the weekday meals, “with the parent's permission, every Friday, in light of this global crisis, we now provide food for the weekend.”

 
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Senior Centers Closed, Meals on Wheels Continue

March 22, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

(Submitted photo via Facebook)

Meals on Wheels deliveries continue for residents who are served by LifeSpan, but the organization’s seven community resource centers for senior citizens are closed to the public.

A spokeswoman said the closures are to comply with Gov. Tom Wolf’s order closing all non-essential businesses.

In addition to its senior resource centers, LifeSpan provides assistance to caregivers of older adults as well as care management and helps investigate allegations of possible elder abuse.

All programs except for the senior centers are operating, but with modifications in place to protect the health and safety of both consumers and staff, the spokeswoman said.

 
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Viewpoint: Spring Arrives, So Will Better Days

March 21, 2020 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

(All photos: Courtesy Vickie Babyak)

During stressful and uncertain times spring reminds me that life continues on. It helps me feel secure to see nature’s growing plants and amazing creatures. Spring feels like a new beginning and a perfect time to rejuvenate myself. I breathe in the fresh air of a new season and it clears away my dreary thoughts of winter.

I find comfort in nature and can patiently spend a couple hours in my backyard with my camera hanging around my shoulders. I love photographing the beauty of flowering plants, budding trees and especially native birds. I notice the details of a tiny flower bud, raindrops on a petal, playful squirrels, the colors of spring emerging from earth, and sweet chirping birds on branches. I capture the memorable image with my camera.

 
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WOLF: ALL ‘NON-ESSENTIAL’
BUSINESSES MUST CLOSE

March 20, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Editor’s Note: This story has now been updated with a response from Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania Senate and details from Ohio.

(Submitted photo)


Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all businesses that are not “life-sustaining,” in his words, to close their physical locations at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Enforcement by the Pennsylvania State Police and other agencies will begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday (March 21).

Pharmacies, food markets and gas stations are exempt. Also exempt are farms, food processing facilities and many manufacturing facilities. Utilities, transportation services, auto-repair shops and building material stores are exempt and may remain open. Construction work must halt, but building maintenance can continue, the state said.

Click to download the full list (PDF)

Businesses that do not comply will face citations, fines and other enforcement actions, Wolf’s office said.

The order is designed to slow the spread of novel coronavirus and the related disease, COVID-19, officials said.

State Republicans said the order issued by Wolf, a Democrat, went too far.

 
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Health Dept. Issues Guidance for Restaurants

March 19, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements

The Elbow Room in the city’s 10th Ward is one of more than a dozen restaurants that have stayed open to provide take-out food only, according to a spokeswoman in McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko’s office. (Tube City Almanac photo)


Although all restaurants in the state have been ordered to close their dining rooms and lounges for at least two weeks in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses are allowed to offer carry-out, delivery and drive-through services for food and beverages.

The Allegheny County Health Department on Thursday issued new guidance for restaurants who are keeping their kitchens open for take-out or delivery service.

 
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Local Police Modify Operations

March 19, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements, Crime and Police News, Duquesne News, McKeesport and Region News, North Versailles Twp. News, White Oak News

Local police departments are modifying their procedures in response to concerns over the spread of novel coronavirus.

Officers will respond immediately to emergency calls to 9-1-1, police said, but tours and routine visits are cancelled indefinitely.

Police in Duquesne, McKeesport, North Versailles Twp. and White Oak are asking residents not to come to their stations in person for routine requests.

Information requests, general complaints and reports about suspicious behaviors should be telephoned to non-emergency numbers, and will be handled by phone. If an officer needs additional information in person, they will make arrangements to meet the other party, police said.

 
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NV Twp. Commissioners Cancel March Meeting

March 19, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: North Versailles Twp. News

North Versailles Twp. cancelled the commissioners’ meeting scheduled for Thursday night as the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to increase in Western Pennsylvania.

A township spokesperson said the meeting will not be rescheduled. The township also has cancelled the annual “Spring Fling” and the citizens’ police academy.

The closure follows President Trump’s decision to declare the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, the township announced.

Access to the township municipal building is restricted until further notice to staff and authorized personnel only, a spokesperson said. Residents who do not have appointments to visit the building are being to asked to transact business by telephone and email. To ask a question, call (412) 823-6602.

Bills, taxes and fees may be paid by mail to 1918 Greensburg Ave., North Versailles, PA 15137, or deposited in the drop box at the front of the building.

 

Citywide Lenten Services Cancelled

March 16, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

McKeesport Area Ministerium has cancelled the remainder of its planned Wednesday noontime Lenten luncheon services, following guidance from public health officials to avoid unnecessary public gatherings.

The Rev. Jim Leuenberger, pastor of McKeesport Presbyterian Church, made the announcement Monday morning. He said the decision was reached after polling members of the ministerium.
 
“The response was overwhelmingly in favor of canceling the rest of the services and lunches,” Leuenberger said. “I’m sorry to have to do this, but I agree that it is for the best and the responsible thing to do.”

The ministerium’s regularly scheduled meeting this week is also cancelled, he said.

 

WOLF ORDERS ALL BARS, RESTAURANTS CLOSED

March 15, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Courtesy Office of Gov. Tom Wolf)


All restaurants and bars in Allegheny County have been ordered to close their dining rooms at midnight tonight, and to stay closed for 14 days.

The order was issued by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, citing recommendations from the state health department.

Wolf said he was exercising his authority under the state’s COVID-19 disaster declaration order. Four other counties — Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery — also are affected.

Eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars in those counties is temporarily prohibited. Carry-out and delivery service may continue, the governor said.

Ohio Gov. Michael Dewine issued a similar order earlier on Sunday, effective statewide at 9 p.m.

 
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COUNTY RECOMMENDS ALL ‘NON-ESSENTIAL’
BUSINESSES CLOSE FOR TWO WEEKS

March 15, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen and chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald announce Sunday that all non-essential busnesses are being asked to close for two weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Allegheny County via YouTube)


Allegheny County officials are asking all “non-essential businesses” — especially those where residents congregate for long periods of time — to close for 14 days in an attempt to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement came just after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that all gatherings of more than 50 people scheduled for the next eight weeks be cancelled or postponed.

Both the county’s advice and the CDC guidance follow increasingly serious reports from Italy, where doctors report that emergency rooms are overwhelmed with victims of COVID-19, a mutated form of coronavirus that causes rapid respiratory failure in some patients.

Italian hospitals on Sunday reported nearly 400 deaths from COVID-19 in a single 24-hour period.

In a video released Sunday evening, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen asked all businesses to voluntarily close or find alternative ways of doing business for at least 14 days.

 
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Allegheny County Suspends Jury Selection

March 15, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Allegheny County jurors who were summoned for possible jury duty this week do not need to report, said Christopher H. Connors, district court administrator for the Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania.

Any juror who has already been picked to serve on a specific case, however, should still report, he said.

The decision to suspend jury selection was made at the request of Allegheny County President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark, he said.

“Jurors summoned for service in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas for any day during the week of March 16 through 20 will not be required to report for duty,” Connors said. “No new jury trials will be picked (this) week.”

 

PAWC: Plans in Place to Protect Water Services

March 15, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements

Pennsylvania American Water Co. is reassuring customers that their tap water is safe, and that the firm has contingency plans in place to continue operations through the current COVID-19 virus outbreak.

In addition, the company will discontinue service shut-offs during the pandemic, and restore water service to customers who were already shut off, said Gary Lobaugh, the company’s external affairs manager for Western Pennsylvania.

The company also is suspending all non-essential field appointments to limit the amount of contact with customers, he said.

Pennsylvania American Water operates the McKeesport wastewater treatment plant and also provides drinking water to customers throughout the South Hills and Mon Valley area, including Liberty, Glassport, Clairton and West Mifflin.

 
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Heritage Center Closed Through March 30

March 15, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements

McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center in Renziehausen Park will be closed through at least March 30, and leaders will decide when to reopen based on county and state health recommendations.

“As always, our top priority is the safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff,” said Teresa Trich, director of community outreach. “We will also be postponing all events and meetings during this time. We hope to resume regular operations on March 31 pending recommendations by the state.”

“An Evening With Duane Michals,” scheduled for March 25, has been cancelled and the center hopes to reschedule it at a later date, she said.

 
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Kane Centers Announce Visitor Restrictions

March 15, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

No visitors are being admitted to Allegheny County’s four Kane Community Living Centers, until further notice, except on an emergency basis, a spokeswoman said.

Amie Downs, county director of communications, said the decision was made based on recommendations from the state Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The county’s four skilled nursing facilities in McKeesport, Glen Hazel and Scott and Ross townships serve elderly patients and people with long-term medical conditions. According to health experts, the elderly and those with serious underlying conditions are most at risk of serious complications from COVID-19.

 
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McKeesport Library, Branches Suspend Operations

March 15, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Carnegie Library of McKeesport and its branches in Duquesne and White Oak are closed through March 29, a spokeswoman said Saturday.

All programming at the library and its branches is also cancelled through March 29. The closure was recommended by the state Office of Commonwealth Libraries, CLM said.

While the library is closed, there will be no overdue fines on items that are checked out, and any items that were requested to be held will remain held until the library reopens.

 
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Reports: COVID-19 Case in Clairton

March 15, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Announcements

(This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available.)

Clairton officials announced Sunday afternoon that a city resident who may be suffering symptoms of COVID-19 has been treated at AHN Jefferson Hospital.

Clairton Councilwoman Denise L. Johnson-Clemmons and Councilman Tony Kurta said via Facebook the city was notified and is working with Allegheny County Health Department to get additional information.

At a joint news conference Saturday, health officials from the county, AHN and UPMC reported Allegheny County’s first two confirmed cases of COVID-19. The patients were both adults, one in their 70s and one in their 60s, who were exposed to the virus during travel out of state.

 
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Ornstein: Stop Comparing COVID-19
to Flu—It’s Far Worse

March 14, 2020 |

By Charles Ornstein | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Empty streets in Milan, Italy, caused by partial quarantine. “The silence is eerie,” says photographer Alberto Trentanni. (Alberto Trentanni photo via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)


Editor’s Note: Charles Ornstein is a deputy managing editor at ProPublica, overseeing the Local Reporting Network, which works with local news organizations to produce accountability journalism on issues of importance to their communities.

This story originally appeared at ProPublica. It is reprinted under a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) license. ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.


As a longtime health care reporter, the unfolding coronavirus pandemic represents everything I’ve read about — from the early days of epidemiology to the staggering toll of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic — but had not covered in my lifetime.

And still, I have been caught off guard by the pushback from top elected officials and even some friends and acquaintances who keep comparing it to the flu.

“So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu,” President Trump wrote on Twitter on March 9. “It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

By Friday, Trump had declared coronavirus a national emergency, freeing up resources and removing hurdles for a faster response.

 
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S.A. Schools Closed Through April 13

March 13, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Liberty Borough News, McKeesport and Region News

South Allegheny School District has joined a growing list of Pennsylvania school districts that are closing for four weeks during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is not the school year we envisioned for our children,” said Lisa N. Duval, district superintendent. “I hope you will talk to your children about their concerns and listen to their disappointment.

“If we can show sympathy for those who are ill or caring for sick family members, empathy for each other and patience during an extraordinary time, we will end up stronger,” she said.

In a letter to parents, students and staff, Duval said that all use of school district facilities is suspended, and all activities — including field trips and student travel, athletic team practices and other gatherings — also is suspended until further notice.

 
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GOVERNOR ORDERS ALL K-12 SCHOOLS CLOSED

March 13, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements

• State waives 180 day requirement
• Will consider extending closure if necessary

Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday ordered all Pennsylvania schools serving kindergarten through grade 12 to close for 10 business days, effective Monday.

School districts will not be penalized if they are unable to meet the state-mandated 180 days of instruction, Wolf said.

The closure is being ordered because of the spread of the so-called “novel coronavirus,” or COVID-19.

According to NBC News, over the past 24 hours, 200 people in Italy have died from the virus, which has caused more than 1,000 deaths in that country over the past few weeks.

On Friday afternoon, officials said there are 33 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania — mostly in the eastern part of the state — including the first confirmed case in a child.

At the end of the 10-day period, Wolf said, the state will decide whether extending the school closure is warranted.

 
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McKeesport Schools Closed Through April 14

March 13, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Area School District will be closed through April 14, the district announced via Facebook.

“At this time, the McKeesport Area School District has decided to close all campuses through spring break,” the district said. “Classes are tentatively scheduled to resume in McKeesport Area School District schools on Tuesday, April 14. In the event that this date would change, we will communicate that in a timely fashion.

“Please know that we understand the challenges and stress that a prolonged closure will put on our families. However, we believe that shutting down our campuses is in the best interest of protecting the health and welfare of every member of our educational community, especially those at a higher risk of contracting coronavirus. We will be here to assist our families in any way that we can during this time.”

 
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Local Agencies, Groups Taking Virus Precautions

March 13, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Serra Catholic High School was closed Friday for sanitization, the Diocese of Pittsburgh announced, but students were working remotely. All Catholic schools in the diocese will be closed Monday as teachers prepare for an possible extended period of online instruction. (Photo courtesy Serra Catholic High School)


Although no confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been reported in Allegheny County on Friday morning, local schools and agencies said they are taking precautionary measures.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said that three local schools — Serra Catholic High School in the city and two elementary schools, St. Therese in Munhall and East Catholic in Forest Hills, were closed for cleaning.

A few students and adults from St. Therese, East Catholic and St. Bede elementary in Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are being kept out of school for 14 days, the diocese said.

Students at Serra Catholic were receiving online instruction on Friday, the diocese said.

 
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Costa Talks COVID-19 Strategy at AIU Panel

March 13, 2020 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

State Senate Majority Jay Costa of Forest Hills spoke at a public forum Thursday night organized by Allegheny Intermediate Unit. (Richard Finch Jr. photo for Tube City Almanac)


Allegheny Intermediate Unit scheduled a legislative forum on public education Thursday night in Homestead.

But the forum, attended by local school board members and district superintendents, quickly turned into a discussion of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Pennsylvania, and what legislators in Harrisburg are doing to protect residents.

The event at the AIU central office was moderated by Jon Delano, KDKA-TV (2) money and politics editor.

State Sen. Jim Brewster, D-McKeesport, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills and state Rep. Dan Miller participated in the panel. Joseph Shaulis, AIU general counsel, said all Allegheny County lawmakers were invited to attend.

 
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Port Vue R.C. Church to Close Permanently

March 12, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Liberty Borough News, McKeesport and Region News

(Photo special to Tube City Almanac)


The former St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Port Vue will close permanently this month.

In a decree dated Feb. 21, Bishop David Zubik said the decision was made at the request of parishioners who were concerned that the condition of the building and the cost of necessary repairs represented “a grave threat” and presented “critical financial difficulties.”

St. Joseph merged with the former St. Eugene Church in Liberty Borough in 1993 to become St. Mark Parish. St. Mark is now part of a regional grouping of churches that also includes St. Michael in Elizabeth Twp. and Queen of the Rosary in Glassport.

The final Mass at the St. Joseph site will be celebrated at 6:30 p.m. March 19, the parish and diocese announced, and the building will be turned over for non-sacred “but not sordid” uses, Zubik said.

 
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Library Hosts Mr. Rogers Discussion Friday Night

March 11, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Carnegie Library of McKeesport will host “Mister Rogers and Philosophy: Wondering Through the Neighborhood” at 6 p.m. Friday (March 13), a spokeswoman said.

Panelists will include Holly Mohr, director of religious education, St. Mary of the Mount Catholic Church; Eric Mohr, philosophy professor at St. Vincent College; Sara Lindley, English professor at St. Vincent College; and Matthew Ussia, English professor at Duquesne University.

The panel will discuss the recent book “Mister Rogers and Philosophy,” edited by the Mohrs, which compares well-known elements in Rogers’ TV show with philosophical concepts presented by Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and Karl Marx.

 
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W. Newton Center to Recognize, Recruit Volunteers

March 11, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements, West Newton News

West Newton Center for Active Adults will hold a volunteer recognition event from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 7, a spokesperson said.

The event is designed to celebrate current volunteers and recruit new ones and will be held at the senior center, 103 E. Main St., and across the street at Simeral Square, corner of East Main Street and North Water Street in West Newton.

Events begin at 9:30 a.m. at the senior center with “What’s Cooking,” a class on cooking rotisserie chicken stir-fry led by Michelle Marker of Nutrition Inc.

 
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Deputies Arrest Second Suspect
in Route 30 Shooting

March 11, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News, North Versailles Twp. News

Sheriff's deputies have apprehended a second suspect wanted in connection with a Oct. 27 shooting in North Versailles Twp.

That incident left one man dead and caused a three-car accident on Route 30 that injured several people.

Erik Desean Addison, 24, of Homestead was arrested Wednesday morning in Mount Oliver, said Tony Griffith, spokesman for Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen.

Addison was wanted by Allegheny County police on charges of homicide, criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, receiving stolen property, unlawful possession of a firearm, recklessly endangering other persons and carrying a firearm without a license.

 
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LifeSpan Slates St. Patrick’s Party, Bingo

March 11, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

LifeSpan will hold a St. Patrick’s Day Party for older adults from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 17 at its Mon Valley Community Resource Center in Olympia Shopping Center, 4313 Walnut St., Versailles, a spokeswoman said.

Admission is $10 includes lunch, treat bags and entertainment by Steel Clover. For more information, call (412) 664-5434.

 
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’70s Who-Dun-It ‘Night Watch’ Bows Friday at MLT

March 11, 2020 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment

Elaine Wheeler (Cindy Swanson), and her visiting friend and nurse Blanche Cooke (Chelsea Forbes), are paid a visit by outgoing neighbor Curtis Appleby (Ron Clawson). (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac)

If you go...

   

McKeesport Little Theater presents “Night Watch”

Where: 1614 Coursin St.
www.mckeesportlittletheater.com

When: March 13 to 22, with Friday and Saturday shows at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $15 for adults, $10 for students.

Reservations: (412) 673-1100 or through the website.

McKeesport Little Theater audiences will get to experience a suspense thriller set in the 1970s, with lots of turns and twists in its plot, when “Night Watch” begins its run Friday (March 13).

Written by Lucille Fletcher, it was made into a 1973 movie starring Elizabeth Taylor.

Sean Butler returns in his second major directing role, after appearing in numerous MLT productions and serving on its board of directors.

“I was formerly on the committee to select the shows, and this one left a really good button to land on,” he said. “It was a lot of fun to help the actors develop their characters in depth.”

 
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Suspect Sought in Evans Ave. Shooting

March 10, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A 29-year-old man is critical condition following a shooting Tuesday morning on Evans Avenue in the city.

Allegheny County police Lt. Venerando Costa said in a prepared statement that the motive for the shooting is unknown.

McKeesport police were dispatched just after 2 a.m. to the 600 block of Evans for a report of “shots fired.”

At almost the same time, police were notified that a gunshot victim had just walked into the emergency room at UPMC McKeesport hospital.

 
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City Pursuing High-Tech Solution to Gun Violence

March 06, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Crime and Police News, McKeesport and Region News

A technician works in ShotSpotter’s incident review center. McKeesport officials are investigating whether or not the technology can be brought to the city with the help of a federal grant. (Submitted photo)


City officials are seeking a federal grant to bring gunshot detection technology to McKeesport in an effort to respond more quickly to incidents.

At Wednesday’s meeting, city council authorized Mayor Michael Cherepko’s administration to apply for a grant through the U.S. Justice Department’s Community Policing Development program to acquire “ShotSpotter” technology.

ShotSpotter, based in Newark, Calif., uses an network of electronic sensors to detect gunfire, pinpoint its exact location, and then alert police. The company says that its system depends on artificial intelligence to analyze the sounds of loud noises and that it ignores things like thunder, fireworks and trucks backfiring.

 
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Riders Ask Hard Questions at Transit Meeting

March 05, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Steve Schonberger of McKeesport talks to state Sen. Jim Brewster before a meeting to discuss public transit on Wednesday night at the Palisades ballroom, Downtown. Officials from Port Authority of Allegheny County are collecting public comments as they prepare a long-range transportation plan. (Photo courtesy state Sen. Jim Brewster, via Facebook)


Riders who attended a meeting Wednesday evening about long-range planning for public transit questioned how the meetings were being advertised — and why electronic fare cards still remain hard to get in McKeesport and elsewhere.

At a “listening session” convened by Port Authority of Allegheny County at the Palisades ballroom, one rider said he was tired of excuses about the ConnectCard system, which is supposed to replace cash fares on buses and light-rail vehicles.

“We were promised a ConnectCard location” at the McKeesport Transportation Center, said Steve Schonberger, a city resident. “It never happened. Other elected officials are getting them — but still none in Senator (Jim) Brewster’s office. The Shop ’n Save (on Fifth Avenue) stopped selling ConnectCards, so if you live in this part of McKeesport, you’re out of luck.

“I’m tired of excuses and I’m tired of hearing that you’re ‘planning’ to do it,” he said. “I’m tired of it.”

 
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Local Leaders Discuss Solutions
to Shared Problems

March 04, 2020 |

By Nick Zurawsky | Posted in: Duquesne News, McKeesport and Region News

Duquesne Mayor Nickole Nesby speaks during a town hall Feb. 26 sponsored by Take Action Mon Valley. (Nick Zurawsky photo for Tube City Almanac)


Community leaders discussed issues ranging from water quality and access to public transportation, to police accountability and merging public services during a forum hosted by Take Action Mon Valley.

The event was held Feb. 26 at the gymnasium of the Salvation Army in McKeesport. About 20 people attended.

Elected officials at the meeting included Allegheny County council members Bethany Hallam and Olivia Bennett as well as Duquesne Mayor Nickole Nesby.

Nesby was the first to speak and said her priorities in Duquesne are combatting “not only street violence and gang violence, but structural violence.”

 
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Transit Discussion Wednesday at Palisades

March 03, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Port Authority of Allegheny County will host a community discussion about public transit at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Palisades Ballroom, 100 Fifth Ave. at Water Street.

A spokesperson said the event is designed as a public forum for residents of the Mon-Yough area to learn more about long-range planning, service, fares and digital applications.

Residents will have the opportunity to ask questions of Port Authority officials, the spokesperson said.

 
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White Oak Council OK’s Lincoln Way Bid

March 03, 2020 |

By Christy Walters | Posted in: White Oak News

White Oak Council has awarded a contract for improvements to Lincoln Way to Costa Contracting of Cheswick.

At February’s meeting, council approved Costa’s $48,325 bid, contingent upon approval from the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development. Funding is being provided by a county Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund grant.

In other business, council approved a resolution authorizing the borough to file for a $150,000 grant from the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County’s Gaming Economic Development Fund program.

 
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Local Officials Urge Calm,
Common Sense in Virus Response

March 03, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Courtesy World Health Organization)


Local officials are encouraging residents to stay informed and use common-sense precautions as “coronavirus disease 2019” spreads in the United States.

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus — officially known as COVID-19 — in Pennsylvania, but with more than 100 cases reported in 15 states, experts say its entry into our area is “inevitable.”

On Friday, Steel Valley School District Superintendent Edward Wehrer reported that two staff members had traveled outside of the U.S. to areas where COVID-19 has been confirmed.

“Because the district makes the safety and overall health of all staff and students a top priority, these employees have been instructed to not report to work until the incubation period for the virus has passed and they have been cleared by a medical professional,” Wehrer said in a prepared statement.

 
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AG: Pharmacy Tech Stole $500K in Drugs

March 02, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A Duquesne woman was indicted by a state grand jury after investigators accused her of stealing more than $500,000 of a prescription drug — about 66,000 doses — from the pharmacy where she worked.

The drug, Suboxone, is commonly used to help wean addicts from narcotics, but according to public health experts, it has its own potential for abuse.

Rena L. Schleehauf, 33, was arrested Friday by the state Attorney General’s office and charged with acquisition of controlled substances by misrepresentation, possession of controlled substances, possession with intent to deliver, theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception.

She remains free on her own recognizance pending a preliminary hearing March 19 before Magisterial District Judge Richard Olasz Jr.

 
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Police Seek Suspect in Freemont St. Shooting

March 02, 2020 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Crime and Police News

Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect who shot a 19-year-old man Sunday afternoon on Freemont Street near the site of the former George Washington School.

The victim, whose name has not been released, is in critical condition at an unidentified trauma hospital, police said.

Allegheny County police Lt. Venerando Costa said the incident happened at around 2:30 p.m. Police said the victim was a passenger in a gray Ford Taurus being driven by a 20-year-old man. A 13-year-old boy was in the back seat of the vehicle, Costa said.

 
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W.M. Teen Charged in Duquesne Shooting

March 02, 2020 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News, Duquesne News

A 17-year-old from West Mifflin has been charged as an adult in connection with a February shooting in Duquesne.

Terril Leverett was arrested Friday by Allegheny County police and charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, carrying a firearm without a license and possession of a firearm by a minor. He is free on $15,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing March 13 before Allegheny County Judge Kim Berkeley Clark.

According to police reports, an unidentified 19-year-old man was shot in the 600 block of West Grant Avenue at around 12:30 p.m. Feb. 16.

 
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Annual Gala March 20 Designed to
Keep Irwin’s Lamp Shining

March 02, 2020 |

By Chris Baumann | Posted in: Entertainment

(Chris Baumann photo for Tube City Almanac)


When Mary Reed moved from Maryland to Western Pennsylvania six years ago, she did not know many people in the area. Reed, like many other volunteers, found a home at the Lamp Theatre in Irwin.

“It’s like a family,” said Reed, who has been volunteering at the Lamp Theatre for the last four years. “It's a fun place. I love the people there and value the connection I’ve made with them.”

The Lamp Theatre will host its 5th Annual Lamp Theatre Gala from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. March 20 at Stratigos Banquet Centre, 131 Colonial Manor Road, North Huntingdon Twp. This year the event is titled “Black Tie and Pearls: A Roaring ’20s Affair” and will feature a 1920s theme.

 
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Chief: Parking Tickets Issued in Error

March 02, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Crime and Police News

Some motorists who parked on Fifth Avenue on Thursday and paid using the MeterFeeder smartphone app got an unpleasant surprise --- parking tickets.

McKeesport police Chief Adam Alfer said the tickets were issued in error by a new officer who was unfamiliar with how MeterFeeder works. The glitch will not happen again, he said.

MeterFeeder allows motorists to pay for parking at a metered space, without putting coins into the meter. The city began using the app in 2017. Homestead, Braddock, Dormont, Sewickley and other towns also use the app.

Any motorists who received a parking ticket in error should bring the citation to the police chief's office, second floor of the Public Safety Building, 201 Lysle Blvd., and the ticket will be waived, Alfer said.

 

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