Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen (courtesy of Allegheny County)

Changes in vaccine plan may slow delivery to some workers, says Allegheny County’s top doc

The Allegheny County Health Department is not yet equipped with enough vaccine doses to begin vaccinating the people newly added by the state to inoculation plan's Group 1A, ACHD Director Debra Bogen said Wednesday. “I would love to tell you that we could vaccinate all of you who now meet these expanded criteria today, but the reality is that the current vaccine supply makes this unachievable at this time,” Bogen said in a press briefing. Bogen explained that in the past two weeks, Pennsylvania distributed 200,000 vaccine doses per week. Allegheny County received fewer than 20,000 of these per week. “Until the vaccine supply greatly expands, all those in Phase 1, please be patient,” she said.

When a city requires off-street parking for new townhouses and rowhouses — as Pittsburgh's zoning code now does — it can look like this, according to a Department of City Planning presentation made to the City Planning Commission on June 16, 2020.

Develop PGH Bulletins: Peduto moving to curb garages, driveways in front of rowhouses

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 1/19/21: Garage banned? Private parking in front of new row houses may become a last resort
A City of Pittsburgh requirement that rowhouse and townhouse developers include off-street parking may soon be replaced by a rule that instead strongly discourages front-of-house garages and driveways for attached homes. Mayor Bill Peduto's administration introduced legislation that would compel developers to explore alternatives to the paved front yards that sometimes blend almost seamlessly with city sidewalks and streets.

Hate groups helped storm the Capitol. These groups have been active in Pennsylvania.

Editor’s note: This guide includes hate group symbols and related information that are disturbing and offensive. On Jan. 6, rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol to interfere with the presidential election won by Joe Biden. The attack on democracy was striking for countless reasons — chief among them the presence of white supremacist imagery, such as bigoted references to the Holocaust. Several members of hate groups participated in the riot, including the Proud Boys, a violent white supremacist group that has gained traction in the last few years.

As the country braces for unrest, here’s what you should know about staying safe in Pittsburgh

The country is on edge after a mob incited by the president overtook the U.S. Capitol last week, resulting in the death of five people and a sense that the security of American democracy is at risk. 

The Washington Post reported that right-wing groups are planning additional armed marches leading up to the Jan. 20 inauguration, according to Alethea Group, which analyzes and combats disinformation online. The report by Alethea Group’ showed plans for activity in all 50 state capitals as well as some other cities, including Pittsburgh. In a Jan. 12 statement, the FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office said the agency is aware of reports of possible “protests in our area,” and that FBI agents interviewed a “Pittsburgh-based individual” cited in the report.

(Photo via iStock)

Facial recognition use spiked after the Capitol riot. Privacy advocates are leery.

The Capitol riot marks another notable moment in the ongoing facial recognition debate. 

The facial recognition app Clearview AI saw an increase in use the day after the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, the New York Times reported. As police departments throughout the United States are helping the FBI identify rioters, some are reportedly using facial recognition technology. 

The use of facial recognition last year to investigate suspected crimes related to Black Lives Matter protests raised privacy and First Amendment concerns from activists, advocates and some lawmakers. Studies show the technology, which attempts to match an uploaded image of a person to other images in a photo database, is less accurate at identifying people of color and women. Facial recognition has also resulted in at least three Black men being wrongfully arrested.

Five ways COVID-19 will continue to change Pittsburgh college life this spring

With COVID-19 cases rising following the holidays and an expected lengthy vaccine rollout, Pittsburgh-area colleges and universities are bracing for another difficult semester. How things will look for students and faculty this spring will be informed by lessons from the fall. “The whole thing has been a real challenge for everybody, but I believe that the response from the students and the faculty and the administration has really made the best of this particular time,” said Susan O’Rourke, faculty senate chair at Carlow University. Colleges are readjusting schedules to start the spring semester later, expanding COVID-19 testing, asking for student input on the fall semester and creating connections with classmates and professors — both online and in-person. Meanwhile, they face challenges like tighter budgets and deflated enrollment. 

The University of Pittsburgh, for instance, has been monitoring case metrics and advice from health officials in deciding when to bring thousands of students back to campus.

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.

The pandemic cost public transit dearly. Will Pittsburgh-area riders return in 2021?

Sewickley resident Libby Powers relies on Port Authority transit because of a disability that prevents her from driving. Typically, she takes public transit to her research job at the University of Pittsburgh five days a week, but, in March, she and her coworkers switched to telework due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, she uses transit to get around and certainly noticed the reduction in service the Port Authority implemented toward the beginning of the pandemic. “Being a person with a disability, public transit has become a way of life for me,” said 33-year-old Powers. “It helps me to get from point A to B; it takes me to places I want to go explore, like in the city; and it helps me be as social and as involved in my own community as I want to be.” 

About three months ago, her employer started having staff come to work once a week and telework the rest of the week.