Endocrinologist Dr. Monica Gomberg has seen a decline in patients in her private practice since the COVID-19 outbreak began in the U.S.. (Photo by Kimberly Rowen/PublicSource)

Allegheny County’s independent medical providers are struggling to stay open, even as healthcare system braces for COVID-19 influx

Doctors at three independent offices told PublicSource that they are considering cutting back hours and staff — or have already done so. To comply with an order from Gov. Wolf to stop elective surgeries, some local providers have had to cut out some or all of their business. And many patients are canceling and delaying their appointments. While some patients have turned toward telemedicine, it still hasn't been enough to offset the lost revenue.

Thousands of patients in Pittsburgh region have turned to telemedicine due to coronavirus fears

As people in the Pittsburgh area are seeking advice about the coronavirus without exposing or being exposed to the virus, local hospitals have been seeing the number of patients seeking urgent care by video chat skyrocket in recent days, according to UPMC and Allegheny Health Network. Conversely, the number of patients seeking urgent care in person has fallen.

A 2017 photo of the Bedford Hill Apartments in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Bedford Hill is owned and managed by the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Vulnerable communities: How Pittsburgh-area low-income housing providers are responding to COVID-19

Update (3/24/20): The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh will hold its monthly board meeting at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 26, remotely. Members of the public can join and listen to the meeting by calling 646-558-8656 and entering 669381214 followed by a #, and can submit comments in advance here. Update (3/20/20): The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh on Thursday evening closed its offices and scaled back its operations to comply with guidance on the novel coronavirus crisis coming from health and public safety officials. Authority employees will continue to "provide remote services" by phone and email, according to a press release. Most social services provided by the authority or by organizations on its behalf are on hold, as are tenant meetings.

How PublicSource will serve you during COVID-19

Dear readers, 

I hope you and the people you care about stay safe and healthy during these uncertain and frightening times. We are saddened with you by the extent to which COVID-19 has disrupted daily routines, businesses and the community at large. Let us all hope that this coronavirus pandemic is not disruptive for long and we will find patience, resilience and humanity to rebuild. 

But while this unprecedented crisis is evolving, we, at PublicSource, will be working to provide timely essential information to you, our readers and supporters. So, to that end, I wanted to share with you our coverage plans and let you know how we are taking precautions as a newsroom to provide a safe environment for our journalists, business staff, sources and the community we serve. 

The latest on coronavirus in the Pittsburgh region

If there is a time when reliable information is essential, this time is now. So, we’ve been focused on reporting easy-to-follow details about the coronavirus in Allegheny County and across the state, including the latest tally of cases.

Illustration of novel coronavirus. (Graphic by Ryan Loew and Natasha Vicens/PublicSource)

Why municipal fragmentation makes the wider Pittsburgh region especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic

Compelling personal stories
told by the people living them. As a health and development economist, I study how households make decisions under uncertainty. Specifically, I look at how bureaucracy, social stratification and place affect those decisions. The coronavirus pandemic is that sort of uncertainty. And looking at the Pittsburgh region through the lens of my expertise, I worry that our region will be hit especially hard by COVID-19.

‘I’m just me.’ A non-binary second grader in Allegheny County shares her experiences with identity and acceptance.

R, a second grader at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in the Bethel Park School District, is like her classmates in many ways. She loves cheetahs, jumping in big piles of leaves and watching the Lego Avengers save the world from bad guys. Science is her favorite class, especially learning about weather, as she hopes to become a meteorologist one day. 

R, whose first initial is used to protect her privacy, also identifies as non-binary. “I'm not a girl, not a boy,” R said. “I’m just me.”

GLAAD, a national nonprofit that promotes LGBTQ acceptance in media, defines non-binary as a term used by individuals “who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman.” Non-binary is different from transgender, which GLAAD defines as people “whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.”

Because most research on population does not include non-binary as a gender category, it is hard to say how many Americans overall identify as non-binary.