Jeffery Fraser

Jeffery is Pittsburgh Today's senior editor, a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to Pittsburgh Quarterly. In his past life, he was a reporter and editor for newspapers large and small, only one of which is still in business. His magazine and newspaper reporting has won numerous awards.

Consumer Confidence Trending up in Region

Confidence in the economy and their personal financial situation is rising among consumers in southwestern Pennsylvania as pandemic restrictions on businesses ease and the COVID vaccine reaches more people. But confidence in the local economy and their own employment outlook remain much lower than before the pandemic, despite the recent surge in optimism, according to …

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Municipal Time Bomb

The fear was real last spring as local taxes—the lifeblood of boroughs, townships and cities—were trickling in. The COVID-19 pandemic was closing or impairing businesses in southwestern Pennsylvania, the state and nation. The U.S. unemployment rate soared to nearly 15 percent. “We worried that our revenues would collapse,” said Scott Andrejchak, the municipal manager of …

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Wanted: More People

Southwestern Pennsylvania staggered into 2020 in need of people, again. It was coming off of yet another year when deaths outnumbered births and the number of newcomers couldn’t keep pace with the number of residents moving somewhere else. The COVID-19 pandemic likely makes the already-long odds of a quick rebound in the region’s population even …

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As More Get Vaccinated, Local Hesitancy Subsides

The number of southwestern Pennsylvanians open to being vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus is surging as the local vaccine rollout gains steam and public hesitancy wanes, even among those who had been steadfast in their refusal to get the shots, a new survey suggests. But the increased willingness to get vaccinated coincides with widespread dissatisfaction …

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Allegheny County Meets Air-Quality Standard for First Time in Decades

After lagging most of the nation for decades, Allegheny County has managed to meet the minimum federal health standard for one of the most harmful of the major air pollutants, county health department data suggest. Levels of fine particulate pollution, known as PM2.5, averaged 11.1 micrograms per cubic meter of air over the last three …

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Pandemic Saps Confidence in Jobs Outlook, Economy

Concern about their jobs and the local and national economies is widespread among people in southwestern Pennsylvania as the COVID-19 pandemic drags into its second year. In January, their confidence in all three fell to some of the lowest levels since the region’s first case of the coronavirus was reported 11 months ago, a new …

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Getting Vaccinated Gains Popularity

Supplies are short and the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine is slow, but the willingness to get the shots is sharply rising across southwestern Pennsylvania, a new survey suggests. And hesitancy over getting vaccinated is fading the most among non-whites. Some 60 percent of southwestern Pennsylvanians said they were ready to get the shot in …

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Local COVID Cases Trail Benchmark Regions

COVID-19 infections slowed last month in Allegheny County, keeping the rate of new cases of the coronavirus below the national average and lower than most metropolitan counties. But the encouraging drop in new infections following the New Year holiday is tempered by frustration over a slow roll-out of the two available vaccines and concern over …

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As Local Virus Cases Surge, Other Regions Fare Worse

The surge in COVID-19 cases continued in December across southwestern Pennsylvania, where all but one county saw infections rise, some dramatically. Still, the region fared better than most in metropolitan America. Meanwhile, new survey data suggests the number of southwestern Pennsylvanians willing to get vaccinated against the virus increased during November, when two drug makers …

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Consumer Worries Mount as Pandemic Toll Worsens

Southwestern Pennsylvania businesses face the prospect of a rough holiday season with a large share of shoppers expecting to spend less than they did last year as the relentless COVID-19 pandemic continues to wear down consumer confidence. Confidence in the economy, personal finances and prospects for employment fell in November to some of the lowest …

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Pitt Scientists Gain on COVID

In February, University of Pittsburgh scientists began scanning their library of human antibodies for any that might have the potential to tame the novel COVID-19 virus. With some 1 trillion antibodies to sort through, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. They found one in less than a week using techniques that …

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Pandemic Tests Resiliency of State’s Small Businesses

Most small businesses in southwestern Pennsylvania and across the state have found ways to adapt to COVID-related sales losses, social restrictions and other bruising conditions. But the lingering pandemic has darkened their outlook. Nearly one third of business leaders doubt conditions will return to pre-pandemic levels even after the virus is tamed, according to a …

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Local COVID Cases Are Second-Lowest Among Benchmark Regions

COVID-19 cases rose 29 percent in Allegheny County during the first two weeks of the month. Still, the county’s infection rate is only half the national average—an indication of how cities and towns across the United States are struggling to blunt the most aggressive surge of the coronavirus since the pandemic began nine months ago. …

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Stubborn Addiction Crisis Grows More Worrisome

Southwestern Pennsylvania entered 2020 dealing with a stubborn public health crisis. Drug overdose deaths, despite a briefly encouraging period of decline, were rising again. Three months later, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, raising the risk of addiction and relapse, those who work with addicted men and women say. The pandemic has kindled fear and uncertainty and …

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Reset Button

It was an obscure sign of the concern mounting over the threat the coronavirus pandemic poses to the future of boroughs, cities and townships. For the first time, “voluntary disincorporation,” the idea of allowing municipalities to shed their political boundaries, was on the agenda of the leadership arm of the Congress of Neighboring Communities, an …

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COVID Hammers Consumer Confidence in Pittsburgh

The COVID-19 pandemic has beaten down southwestern Pennsylvania’s confidence in the local and national economies, employment and personal finances. Even with sentiment rising in the past two months, the outlook of most consumers remains bleak. Confidence has swung wildly since March as consumers for the first time learned what life is like during a global …

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Pittsburgh Gets Fresh Image

A new branding campaign to raise awareness of southwestern Pennsylvania’s charms and promise is making a bid for attention in a world distracted by pandemic. The brand—“Pittsburgh region. Next is now”—positions the region as an iconic and innovative place poised for the future. Unveiled by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development yesterday, the campaign promotes …

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How Allegheny County Spends its $212 Million CARES Package

Allegheny County unveiled a new COVID-19 testing center in McKeesport last week as health officials braced for the confluence of the coronavirus outbreak and the approaching flu season. The center, which can perform 200 tests a day, didn’t cost county taxpayers one dime. It is the highest profile example to date of how the county …

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Light the Bridges for a Gleaming Downtown

Dressing the Rachel Carson Bridge with 27,000 color-changing LED lights got the public’s attention in 2016. And the popularity of the temporary installation, done as part of the City of Pittsburgh’s bicentennial celebration, bought it an extended 18-month run. If that’s the case, says former Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey, why not artistically illuminate …

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Venting off Steam… and Turning It Into a Musical Downtown Clock

Lynn Dunbar is well acquainted with the vertical steam pipe that juts from the pavement at Penn Avenue and Seventh Street in Downtown Pittsburgh for patrons of the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts and the rest of the Cultural District to see. Her husband is in the Pittsburgh Symphony, she once worked for the …

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‘It’s Been Crazy’: Gun Sales Break Records

Gooch Ionadi has seen spikes in gun sales before. He’s come to expect a surge of buyers at his Smoke ‘N Guns shop when a mass shooting rekindles debate over gun control laws. And presidential elections are busy years, as a rule. But nothing compares to the last four months. “I’m seeing little old women, …

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Voter Registration High Despite Pandemic

Voter registration in southwestern Pennsylvania and across the state could surpass totals seen in the last presidential election year even as the coronavirus disrupts tried-and-true tactics for reaching and registering new voters. With three months left to register, Pennsylvania is 80,000 voters shy of surpassing the total number of registered voters who were eligible to …

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