Week in review: Not ready to open yet, new fossil exhibit, Queen for a Day, vaccines for teachers and more

Tony LaRussa, The Tribune-Review, Greensburg
·4 min read

Mar. 6—Here are some of the top Tribune-Review news and feature stories from around the region during the week of March 1, 2021.

For more details on these and other stories, follow the links below or see Triblive.com.

Allegheny County officials: 'We're not there yet' on reopening

Allegheny County's covid-19 case numbers are no longer declining, but they're stable, Dr. Debra Bogen, health director, said Wednesday.

The county's test positivity rate increased slightly from last week, from 5.5% to 5.9%. Hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline. But Bogen said she is concerned about the results of recent case investigations.

"We have again started to hear that sports teams are having social gatherings, people are hosting parties and some reports indicate a lack of mask-wearing and lack of physical distancing," Bogen said. "We are so close to being able to safely hold such events again, but not yet."

Carnegie Museum unveils new marine specimens in 'Cretaceous Seaway'

Once upon a time — let's say, about 90 million years ago — a juvenile pliosaur was swimming around the waters of western Manitoba in central Canada.

If you were also in the water, it would be tough to miss, despite its young age: It would be about 18 feet long, roughly the size of a large saltwater crocodile.

As an adult, it would be among the largest marine reptiles of the dinosaur era, growing up to 40 feet long and holding a spot near the top of the food chain during the Cretaceous Period.

Visitors to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History will be able to look up and see the plesiosaur along with four other new specimens in the museum's Cretaceous Seaway, part of its flagship exhibit, "Dinosaurs in Their Time."

She's lovin' it: 100-year-old McDonald's worker has no plans to retire

Ruth N. Shuster was crowned "Queen for a Day" at McDonald's Big Mac Museum in North Huntingdon, a well-deserved honor for a loyal employee who has greeted customers at the eatery the past 27 years.

What made this honor — a throwback to Art Linkletter's 1950s-era television show of the same name — so special for the Irwin woman is that it was part of her 100th birthday celebration.

"It feels great," said a thankful Shuster, who was dressed in her McDonald's uniform because Wednesday was a work day.

How vaccine clinics will work for Pa. teachers

At least one vaccination site in each of Pennsylvania's educational regions will be available to teachers and school staff, state officials said Thursday. The clinics could be up and running as early as next week.

Child care workers who are not associated with one of the state's 29 Intermediate Units could start receiving phone calls today from the state's federal pharmacy partners — Rite Aid, Walmart and Topco — about scheduling vaccination appointments, said Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced Wednesday that teachers and other school staff will be eligible for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that received emergency authorization over the weekend. The Department of Health expects to receive about 94,600 doses of the single-shot vaccine this week.

Sexual assault trial of former Pirates' pitcher set for May

The sexual assault and child pornography cases against suspended Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Felipe Vazquez will be conducted May.

Westmoreland County Judge Scott Mears ordered jury selection in the case to begin May 14 and for testimony in the trial to start on May 17.

"Given that Mr. Vazquez has been in jail since September 2019, it's important we get ready for trial as soon as possible," Mears said.

Vazquez, 29, is charged with statutory sexual assault, indecent assault of someone under age 16, corruption of a minor and unlawful contact with a minor in connection with what police contend was a sexual relationship with a then 13-year-old girl in 2017 in Scottdale.

Vazquez has denied guilt.

Westmoreland commissioners demand increase in covid vaccine deliveries

Westmoreland County's Republican leaders on Wednesday demanded Pennsylvania Department of Health officials increase the supply of covid-19 vaccines to the county.

In a letter sent to Alison Beam, the state's acting secretary of health, Commissioners Sean Kertes and Doug Chew called for 'immediate and substantial adjustments" to the distribution of vaccines, citing a data analysis that found Westmoreland received fewer doses than many smaller counties and was last among counties with similar populations.

Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Arts Festival returns in a new format

The Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival will return this June in a hybrid format, featuring both in-person and virtual events.

But none of the real-life events will take place in Point State Park or Gateway Center, where the festival is traditionally held.

Organized by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the 10-day presentation of music and art is scheduled for June 4-13.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, tlarussa@triblive.com or via Twitter .