How one Pittsburgh-area nursing home avoided a coronavirus surge in the ongoing pandemic

It was March when Kara Chipps watched in horror as TV networks covered a novel coronavirus that surfaced in a suburb east of Seattle at the Life Care Center of Kirkland. Within five weeks of the first reported case in the United States, Washington state health officials were sounding the alarm about an outbreak. By early April, COVID-19 infected 129 residents, staff and visitors to the Kirkland nursing home and has been associated with at least 40 deaths. “We were watching the news and basically seeing the numbers go up,” said Chipps, assistant director of nursing at McMurray Hills Manor in Washington County, Pa. Because the average patient at McMurray is 84 years old, staff worried COVID could wreak havoc at the 115-bed nonprofit facility located 15 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.

A person walks past a sign taped to a traffic cone that reads, "Voting place. Polls open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m."

PA voters: What you and your government can do to reinforce trust in elections

The November general election is being built up to be one of the most tense, consequential and unusual elections to take place in U.S. history. An incumbent president with historically low approval ratings is saying he wouldn’t commit to election results if he loses, all while a pandemic killing thousands of Americans per week has forced the country to shift toward mail-in voting.

Millions of dollars in housing aid have been directed by state and local programs to stave off the threat of evictions and foreclosures. Some neighborhood advocates worry it won't be enough. (Photo by Jay Manning)

‘A patchwork of safety nets’ presents challenges for Pittsburghers facing housing insecurity

When Autumn Young-Dorsett lost her job as a life skills assistant teacher due to the COVID-19 pandemic, paying the bills became a lot more difficult. Her employer continued to pay her until mid-June, at which point she had to file for unemployment. Mortgage payments presented the biggest burden, but other expenses also added up. “The car payment arrangement, car insurance, life insurance. Everything has just gone back,” Young-Dorsett said. “It feels like I’m going backwards.”

She’s been getting guidance from the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, a community group that in 2012 sold her the home she currently lives in with her children.