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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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