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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, there are calls locally for a comprehensive plan to address inequality. The mayor and one city councilman say they need to go beyond police reform.

The mayor has joined Councilman Ricky Burgess in calling for the reinvestment in the Black community, starting in the heart of Homewood on Homewood Avenue.

“Black lives matter when Black communities matter, when we transform these depressed communities of concentrated poverty into mixed income stable communities,” Burgess says.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Burgess is introducing legislation calling for reinvestment in the Black community. The centerpiece would be the redevelopment of Homewood Avenue — once a thriving business district now mostly blighted.

He is calling on the corporate community, the foundations, the healthcare systems and the universities to partner with the city to bring Black businesses to Homewood Avenue and develop new housing.

“We must rebuild the Black community, for Black people, by Black people with partners and allies,” says Burgess.

Burgess has the support of Mayor Peduto, who has joined him in calling for a comprehensive plan to lift up the Black community, which has not participated equally in Pittsburgh’s economic renaissance.


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“If we really want to adopt principals of Black Lives Matter, we’re going to have to deal with that through access to healthcare, access to quality jobs, access to quality education, access to housing and police reform,” says Mayor Peduto.

People believe Homewood Avenue is a good place to start.

The redevelopment would be a centerpiece of a broader plan — one visible and shining example of the resurgence of the Black community.

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Tags: andy sheehan black lives matter city council councilman ricky burgess homewood homewood avenue local tv mayor bill peduto pittsburgh pittsburgh news

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COVID-19: Williamson County Mayor Mandates Residents Cover Faces in Public Starting This Week



Williamson County residents must wear face coverings or masks in public to fight COVID-19 starting Tuesday.

County residents will have to wear masks or other coverings in public until at least August 3.

County Mayor Rogers Anderson announced the news Monday in a press release on the Williamson County Government’s Facebook page.

In a separate Facebook post, a video, Anderson said he acted on other people’s advice.

“Many other health care professionals think this is the best approach, as all of you know,” Anderson said, even though he did not specify which health care professionals.

“I am not a doctor. I am listening to those people who suggest that we do this to help slow this virus down.”

Anderson, in his press release, also said he consulted with each of the mayors of the county’s various municipalities as well as the school superintendents for the county’s two school districts.

But county officials offered no evidence from studies that support the assertion that cloth or face mask mandates limit the spread of COVID-19. Nor did they provide evidence to support the claim that cases, hospitalizations, or deaths are increasing in the county.

Do Masks Stop COVID-19?

The Tennessee Star asked county spokeswoman Diane Giddens if Anderson and other county officials could point to any studies that confirm that cloth or surgical masks stop the spread of COVID-19.

“The decision to require face coverings is based on recommendations from federal and state health officials, including the CDC and the State of Tennessee Department of Health,” Giddens said.

Officials at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on their website, recommend face cloth coverings for events and other gatherings, especially when physical distancing is difficult. The TDH’s website, meanwhile, refers to CDC guidelines for businesses, restaurants, and bars.

The Star then asked what is Williamson County’s 14-day trend of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Giddens did not answer directly and instead referred us “to whatever link on the EMA website gives the most up-to-date information.”

According to the TDH’s website, and since the virus hit the United States, Williamson County has had a sum total of 1,340 confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases as of Monday afternoon. The virus had claimed the lives of 15 county residents. Exactly 1,550 county residents had tested positive for COVID-19 via Polymerase Chain Reaction diagnostic tests. Exactly 19,941 county residents had tested negative through the same PCR tests.  Exactly 581 county residents had recovered. The TDH website, which lists the state’s hospitalization data, does not narrow information by county.

Giddens said she knew not all people would support Anderson’s decision.

While we recognize there are differences of opinion regarding the use of face coverings, in light of the increasing numbers we believe that the minor inconvenience of wearing a face covering when in public establishments is a better alternative than risking further closure of businesses and/or the inability of our schools to open in the fall,” Giddens said.

“We are optimistic that our citizens will do their part so that we can all remain healthy and productive.”

The CDC initially advised against requiring the public to wear masks, but reversed course on that issue in February, though it provided no medical studies to support the decision.

According to last month, researchers Wei Lyu and George L. Wehby studied COVID-19, community use of face masks, and government mandates to wear them in the United States.

According to the abstract of their study

State policies mandating public or community use of face masks or covers in mitigating novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread are hotly contested. This study provides evidence from a natural experiment on effects of state government mandates in the US for face mask use in public issued by 15 states plus DC between April 8 and May 15. The research design is an event study examining changes in the daily county-level COVID-19 growth rates between March 31, 2020 and May 22, 2020. Mandating face mask use in public is associated with a decline in the daily COVID-19 growth rate by 0.9, 1.1, 1.4, 1.7, and 2.0 percentage-points in 1–5, 6–10, 11–15, 16–20, and 21+ days after signing, respectively. Estimates suggest as many as 230,000–450,000 COVID-19 cases possibly averted By May 22, 2020 by these mandates. The findings suggest that requiring face mask use in public might help in mitigating COVID-19 spread.

Executive Orders

On July 3, Gov. Bill Lee signed Executive Order 54 that grants county mayors in 89 counties the authority to make citizens wear face coverings in public to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Per the governor’s order, violation is a Class A misdemeanor,” Giddens said when The Star asked about enforcement mechanisms.

Critics claim the governor’s executive order and Anderson’s executive order requiring face masks are unconstitutional and will not survive court challenges.

In a column for The Star last month, board certified emergency physician Simone Gold said the scientific usefulness of a mask is “aggressively overstated.”

“The Covid virus was supposed to be contained in the kind of lab where people wear astronaut suits and go through triple sealed doors. It is a con of massive proportion to assert that now, having escaped those environs, a bandana will magically do the trick. After all, size matters,” Gold wrote.

“The pore size of cloth face coverings range from ~ 20-100 microns. The Covid virus is 200-1000x smaller than that, at 0.1 microns. Putting up a chain link fence will not keep out a mosquito. Even the most esteemed medical journals admit their purpose is to calm anxiety.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]








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