There were four cases of coronavirus in Allegheny County as of Sunday evening, part of 60+ cases in the state. Here’s what’s new:
📍 Four cases in Allegheny County and one in Washington County. Of the four in Allegheny County, two are Pittsburghers. Three of the county patients are in their 60s and one is in their 70s. One is hospitalized. (WTAE)
🚨 Pittsburgh is under a state of emergency with gatherings of 50 or more banned as of this morning. (KDKA-TV)
🗓 Non-essential Allegheny County businesses should close or “implement alternative work strategies” for at least two weeks starting today, officials say. (Allegheny County)
🚫 Previously, events across the city were postponed or canceled — everything from Riverhounds soccer matches to theater performances to Catholic masses. Here’s a big list of what’s canceled. (Pittsburgh City Paper)
🍴 Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all restaurants and bars in Allegheny County to close for dine-in service for 14 days. (Gov. Tom Wolf)
🏥 UPMC has made its own COVID-19 test amid a national shortage and opened a secure testing collection facility on the South Side. More UPMC testing locations are planned across the state. (UPMC / TribLive)
😷 How does the coronavirus test work? Here you go. (Pennsylvania Capital-Star / The Conversation)
✏️ All K-12 schools in Pennsylvania are closed for 10 business days starting today, Gov. Wolf ordered. After the 10-day period, the governor will decide if schools need to be closed longer. (Gov. Tom Wolf)
🍽 All 54 Pittsburgh Public Schools will have grab-and-go meals for students who need them. (Pittsburgh Public Schools)
👂 And here’s some advice on talking to your kids about the virus. (Fred Rogers Center)
😇 All the cool kids are social distancing, and this tweet explains why you should, too, even if you’re young. (The New York Times)
🤝 How does COVID-19 spread? This interactive shows just how quickly a virus like this can move between community members — and how we can flatten the curve. (The Washington Post)
🚫 Visits with inmates at state prisons are off for two weeks. Staff and vendors will undergo enhanced screening. (York Dispatch)
🚍 Port Authority vehicles are being cleaned every 24 hours as service continues, but riders are urged to “practice good hygiene.” (Port Authority)
☘️ Smaller-than-normal crowds gathered in the South Side Saturday for St. Patrick’s Day festivities. The city reported six arrests. (Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety)
👟 Despite the cancellation of the parade and public health warnings against gatherings, organizers of Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Pittsburgh marched anyway. (KDKA-TV)
In other news…
Battle of the Billboard: Part Two. In a rematch between the City of Pittsburgh and Lamar Advertising, both parties are again tussling over a billboard, this one on River Avenue on the North Side. You may recall the city’s unsuccessful bid to have Lamar remove its very prominent billboard atop Mount Washington — one the mayor called an eyesore. Well, Lamar won that case in court and says the city is targeting its River Avenue billboard in retaliation. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Picklesburgh is still the champion. For a second straight year, the briny bash has been named the best specialty food festival in America by readers of USA Today. The festival’s popularity has skyrocketed and its footprint has grown. Picklesburgh is expected to return in July, but exact dates have yet to be announced. (KDKA-TV)
From pickles to pollos guisado. Dominican and Cuban flavors can be found right in Mt. Lebanon at Zorros, the new Dominican restaurant from Samantha and Jesse Fox. City Paper describes the menu as mouth-watering and “a representation of their relationship, mixing Jesse’s cooking style with Samantha’s Dominican heritage.” (Pittsburgh City Paper)
Sen. Bernie Sanders is ramping up operations in Pennsylvania following a string of Democratic primary losses. This includes the opening of an office in Pittsburgh. But big questions remain about what impact the coronavirus may have on the April 28 primary here. If you want to play it safe and request a mail-in ballot, you have until April 21 to do so. (Billy Penn / Philadelphia Inquirer)
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So about that bench …
My friend and I took a walk in Schenley Park last weekend and she pointed out the bench. “It’s always painted differently for the holidays,” she told me. “But I never see anybody paint it, and there’s never any wet paint. It’s like there’s a magical park fairy who transforms it overnight.”
Well, there may not be a magical park fairy, but there is Gary Sciulli. He’s the Department of Public Works foreman for Schenley Park. As 90.5 WESA explains, it all started with a Steelers bench and then ballooned from there.
There’s also more than one bench.
Sciulli and his team have created more than a dozen benches, including ones for Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, breast cancer awareness, and prisoners of war missing in action, WESA reports. They’re repurposed from rusting or broken benches — some of which date back more than a century.
Shout-out to Anne-Marie N. for knowing the spot of this bench and winning a month of Incline membership. You can find the bench at Bartlett Street and Panther Hollow Road in Squirrel Hill. So go take a stroll and have a seat.
Once in a while we just gotta say … dang, Dave DiCello. Pittsburgh’s preeminent photog has done it again with these pics of fog blanketing Downtown. Cozy.
We’re gonna stop talking and let the images speak for themselves.
Make it a great day, folks. We’ll see you back here tomorrow.