As a community health nurse, I know a barrier to health care when I see it. The COVID vaccine signup process is one that can cost lives.

Health systems that prioritize people who are able to go online for hours, hunting for scarce vaccine appointments, are creating barriers for vulnerable people who often have spent most of their lives pressing their noses against the window of a healthcare system that doesn’t seem to care about them.

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.

Photo of the supreme court and pink colored state of Pennsylvania icon.

After shift in Supreme Court balance, states like Pennsylvania could become the new abortion rights battleground

The confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court a week before the 2020 election set off waves of alarm for abortion rights advocates — and celebration for abortion opponents. With a firm conservative majority, Barrett’s confirmation could mean the weakening or even overturn of Roe v. Wade, a move that would put more power in the hands of states that have sought to tighten abortion restrictions. Conservative states from Mississippi to North Dakota have already passed laws tightening the rules for abortion providers, which has caused some states to lose nearly all of their providers. West Virginia and Ohio are increasingly dominated by conservative state governments that support heartbeat bills — legislation that prevents a woman from having an abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat. As a result, Pittsburgh abortion providers think that they could soon see an influx of women searching for abortions they can’t get close to home.

From being a hero to being shunned: Stories from the front lines of Pittsburgh’s pandemic

With the first shipments of the vaccine arriving, the rising number of COVID-19 infections is still threatening to overwhelm workers at local ICUs and nursing homes. These three women have seen it all: from being called a hero to being shunned, and from working 16-hour shifts to quarantining at home with COVID. Despite hopeful news, they fear the worst is yet to come.

2020 in pictures: A journey through a year like no other in Pittsburgh

No one will forget 2020. Pandemic, protests, the election — and yet everyone has experienced 2020 in their own way. While its effects appear to cut across lines of class, race and gender, 2020 has also been a year to expose and attenuate the profound inequalities in our society. These photographs are taken from a personal account of a shared experience, of a journey through a year like no other. They provide, on occasion, a first-hand account of some of the year’s major events, seen from our small city. 

Nestled between the Northeast and the Midwest, Pittsburgh is unique, quirky, specific — and a barometer of the country as a whole.