Duquesne students practicing immunization. (Photo courtesy of Duquense University)

Duquesne University training hundreds of students, pharmacists to meet exploding need for Covid vaccines

This story was originally published by NEXTpittsburgh, a news partner of PublicSource. NEXTPittsburgh is an online publication about the people advancing the region and the innovative and cool things happening here. Sign up to get NEXTpittsburgh free. As the Covid vaccination campaign ramps up — locally and worldwide — somebody is going to have to give out all of those shots. Duquesne University’s highly regarded School of Pharmacy is attempting to help fill this void, as fast as possible, with a unique online vaccination certification course. “Pharmacists were telling us that they had trouble finding any place that was offering the certification,” says Dr. Tiffany Hatcher, assistant professor of pharmacy at Duquesne.

Marc Wagner outside of his home in Swissvale, PA. (photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

‘Déjà vu’: HIV-positive Pittsburghers say we have much to learn about COVID by comparing it to our other deadly epidemic

Several Pittsburghers living with HIV told PublicSource the COVID pandemic echoed many of the scariest and most dangerous parts of living through the HIV and AIDS epidemic, including confusion about the science, social isolation, a reluctance to adopt public health measures and a lack of leadership from the president of the United States.

Rachel Kruze, 41, of Monaca, visits the site underneath P. J. McArdle Roadway on the South Side where her boyfriend overdosed and died. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Holding on to love: One Pittsburgh story of coping with loss amid rising opioid overdoses

Overdoses from opioid addiction are on the rise again in Allegheny County and across the country. Experts say the COVID-19 pandemic has been making the problem worse. PublicSource has reported on how recovery workers are trying to adapt and today we are featuring stories from survivors and the loved ones of victims.

When Rachel Kruze’s boyfriend, Curtis Radke, was leaving her car one day back in August, she stopped him. 

“You don’t seem well, and I feel like I’m never going to see you again,” she said. The night before, Radke admitted to her that he had relapsed on heroin after she found a syringe in his backpack and confronted him. He used heroin in front of her that morning for the first time before they left for Radke’s work.

Endless buffering: Local schools try to solve students’ internet access issues on their own

Carla Rathway could hear her youngest son's frustration from the other room. She knew the clamor meant the internet was acting up again and keeping 12-year-old Preston from his school work. It happened all the time. "He's like, 'Oh my gosh,' when it's buffering or locking him out,” Rathway said, adding she also overhears him saying, "'I hate this internet.'"

Like scores of Pennsylvania students, Preston, a seventh grader at Belle Vernon Area School District in Westmoreland County, and his brother, 15-year-old tenth-grader Dylan, were in their second month of online learning this October. But the brothers were doing it all without a reliable high-speed internet connection at home, where they live across the county line in Fayette County.

Maddie Aicher, volunteer coordinator petting a cat at Animal Friends Shelter in Pittsburgh, PA (photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Caring for animals is a hands-on task. The pandemic has upended operations (and fundraising) for Pittsburgh-area shelters.

Animals aren’t at a great risk for COVID-19, but the pandemic has upended care at local shelters.  

As businesses shuttered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new challenge arose for Pittsburgh’s Animal Friends shelter. With more than 200 cats, dogs and other animals all on-site, Animal Friends couldn’t just shut their doors. 

Instead, shelter staff sprung into action. And over the next nine months, the shelter created solutions to continue providing essential care to the animals safely amid the pandemic. Those included partnering with foster homes to house the animals, virtual fundraisers and limiting foot traffic at their campus — among other precautions. “We limited the number of people in the building and implemented a team schedule among staff,” said Cody Hoellerman, chief community engagement officer at Animal Friends.

As temperatures chill, Pittsburgh’s homeless shelters face new challenges in the pandemic

With the onset of cold weather and rising COVID-19 cases locally, Pittsburgh-area homeless shelters have seen an influx of federal aid yet face unprecedented challenges in keeping an already vulnerable population safe and out of the elements. In December, Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services received $1.2 million from the federal CARES Act. The funding will be allocated to ACTION-Housing/Team PSBG, Community Human Services and Pittsburgh Mercy to help pay the costs of temporary emergency shelter, targeted street outreach and prevention of community spread. Service providers say the funds help. But they’ve faced numerous challenges from the pandemic — from the need for extra space for social distancing to complications in how shelters obtain food — and still rely on financial contributions from the community and other forms of funding to fill the gap.