A staff member at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital receives an influenza vaccine during the health system’s Operation One Shot, held in September at multiple facilities. (Screenshot)

Levine calls attempt to dismantle ACA ‘horrifying.’ UPMC doctor casts doubt on vaccine availability this year.

Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine on Wednesday warned that the threat of the U.S. Supreme Court dismantling the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic was “horrifying.”

Levine said she supported state legislation backed by the Wolf administration to shore up protections under threat by a Texas lawsuit before the high court. In a wide-ranging Q and A with the media, Levine discussed:

That long-term effects of COVID-19 are more likely to affect women than men. And a study out of France has found the average age of what is called “long haulers” was 40 years. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] study showing that 35% of COVID-positive respondents experienced COVID-19 symptoms weeks and months after exposure. Among long haulers 18 to 34 years old and previously healthy, 20% experienced symptoms for 14 to 21 days. 
To date in Pennsylvania, 49 children have been diagnosed with the new syndrome associated with the coronavirus called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children [MIS-C].

Robert Aldred flips through photos on his phone showing injuries sustained when a police dog bit him in June 2017. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Police chase settlement would push lawsuit payouts beyond $10 million since 2009

PublicSource reviewed the cases because federal court is typically the referee of last resort in disputes between citizens and police. Officials sometimes portray the court as a backstop against other systems’ shortcomings. Scholars of law enforcement, though, view federal court as an uneven playing field on which results have little to do with the severity of a constitutional violation or the injuries caused.

Pittsburgh protesters walk down a downtown street.

Pittsburgh in Protest: A slow-motion time capsule of the local movement

Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis on May 25, demonstrations around the country have called for racial justice. Those calls have not let up, and here in the Pittsburgh region, protests have filled the streets for months.

Protesters have marched, danced, sung and shouted. These protests are often loud and kinetic, filled with chants and fast-moving events. Scores of people attending the protests regularly witness this energy firsthand, while plenty more see these actions through the small handheld window of an online livestream. With so much happening all at once, PublicSource used slow motion videography to film scenes from two days of recent demonstrations. The result is a quiet, slowed-down time capsule of a critical moment in American history, happening here at home.

Some University of Pittsburgh's students, faculty and alumni are upset that it accepted $4.2 million in funding from the Charles Koch Foundation for a new center to study politics, markets and technology.

Higher-ed reporting gets a boost in Pittsburgh as part of partnership between PublicSource and Open Campus

Pittsburgh’s nonprofit newsroom PublicSource and the national Open Campus network are partnering to ensure a watchful eye remains on higher education in Southwestern Pennsylvania when it matters the most. The coronavirus pandemic is derailing students’ education plans, imperiling their health, safety and employment prospects. The uncertainties created by the pandemic have also put pressure on higher-ed institutions, from how students and employees return to campus to how colleges and universities respond to their fluctuating finances. At the same time, the region will be looking to its colleges to help it recover. As new challenges arise, PublicSource and Open Campus recognize the Pittsburgh region needs a dedicated higher-ed reporter.

Justin Strong stands beside a new steam cleaner he purchased with a loan from Honeycomb Credit.

Things were looking good, then the pandemic hit. How four Pittsburgh-area businesses are weathering the COVID era.

COVID-19 has brought hard times to small business owners across the nation.. The online review website Yelp estimated that before July 10, 73,000 small businesses in the United States had closed permanently. Times have been difficult for businesses in the Pittsburgh region, and while the outlook is uncertain, PublicSource spoke to the owners of four resilient businesses that have stayed afloat by obtaining credit, going online, developing new streams of revenue, and in one case, simply breaking the rules.

Ebony Lunsford-Evans, owner of FarmerGirlEB, picks tomatoes at her home garden. (Photo by Brian Cook)

Pittsburgh’s Black farmers work to grow a new future

Those working in agriculture, a fragile business to start with, typically handle so many variables each year that are out of business owners’ hands. But 2020 has been a season full of more than the usual mix of uncertainty, one shaped by the economic and cultural impact of a pandemic few could have planned for.

PWSA Executive Director Will Pickering photographed near the Highland 1 reservoir in Highland Park. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

As PWSA looks past the lead crisis, its new leader faces $1 billion in upgrades and rising water bills

PWSA is committed to replacing aging infrastructure, including lead service lines, to the tune of more than $1 billion over five years, a rapid increase in spending. This also means it’s begun raising rates and has proposed even more increases, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has left significant economic uncertainty in the region and required the authority to suspend water-shutoffs.

Outside of the Allegheny County Jail building

‘It almost broke me.’ How the pandemic is straining mental health at Allegheny County Jail.

No personal visitors, hardly any time for inmates outside of their cells and chronic vacancies in mental health and health staff raise concerns that the mental health of Allegheny County Jail [ACJ] inmates is deteriorating, according to inmates recently incarcerated there, family members of current inmates, advocates and current and former ACJ staff.