Showing posts with label Pittsburgh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pittsburgh. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A Second Wave of COVID-19 Cases in Cambria and Allegheny Counties?

Cambria County has experienced 22 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 7 days to give a total of 83 cases.  In the previous 37 days, the county had a net increase of 7 cases.  The best fit line is now a fifth order polynomial with an R-square of 99%.  In the graph below, a second order polynomial provided the best fit for the cumulative case curve for the months of March and April with an R-square of 97%.

The map above shows the distribution of the 83 cases in Cambria County by zip code.  The lightest blue zip codes have zero confirmed or probable cases.  The next darker color blue zip codes have between 1 and 4 cases.  The next darker blue colored zip codes have between 5 and 10 cases.  The zip code with the most confirmed cases is 15904 with 7 cases. This zip code covers Richland Township followed by 15931 (Ebensburg) at 6, the Johnstown zip codes of 15905 and 15902 and the Portage zipcode 15946 with 5 each.  The most tested zip code in Johnstown is 15901 with enough tests to cover 12.32% of it's population.  The image below is a screenshot of the distribution of cases on April 26 showing all of the light blue zip codes with the number of cases between 1 and 4.

So far there hasn't been an increase in the number of deaths which tend to follow an increase in cases.  Allegheny County has been showing a similar rise in cases, over 400 in the last five days.  So far they have not had a corresponding increase in deaths.  The bars have been closed down in Allegheny County but not in Cambria County so far.  WEAR A Mask!!!!


WTAE in Pittsburgh reports that it is now mandatory to wear masks in publicBelow is a graph showing the trend in testing and cases in the county since March.

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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Are Mass Shootings Rare in Southwestern Pennsylvania?

In the press conference following the horrific shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue which climed 11 lives, Wendell Hissrich, Pittsburgh's director of public safety, said "these events usually occur in other cities, today the nightmare has hit home in the city of Pittsburgh."  The video clip above details six other mass shooting events (defined as events with three or more fatailities) in and around the city that have occurred sine 2000.  These events include Ronald Taylor and Richard Baumhammers racially motivated shooting sprees, Richard Poplawski's killing of three Pittsburgh Police officers a mile from where I lived in Stanton Heights, George Sodini who killed three women at the LA Fitness Center in the South Hills, a drug related shooting in Wilkinsburg and a car wash shooting in Fayette County.

To test this claim I can compare the number of shootings here in Pittsburgh for time and population to the national rate of mass shootings since 2000 adjusting for population and time.  The Poisson distribution is a probability distribution used to estimate the probability of rare events,  In the above graphic x is the number of events of interest, lambda is the mean # of occurrences say the national rate of shootings and x! (called x factorial) is a shorthand way of writing 5! = 5*4*3*2*1 = 120.

Mother Jones magazine maintains an online database of mass shootings related to mass shooters whose motives were not gang related and did not occur in a home.  They list 75 such incidents in their database since 2000.  The shootings by Baumhammers, Sodini, and Taylor were not included but should have been by their criteria so I will include them in the total number of incidents making it 78.  The shooting by Poplawski is not included because it occurred in his home and the other which happened in Wilkinsburg is also not included because it is drug/gang related.  Dividing by the US population in the 2010 census of 308,745,538.  Population adjusted rate of these mass shootings in 0.25 shootings per million residents for lambda in the above equation.  Entering the 5 incidents into the formula for x gives a probability value approaching zero for observing this rate given the national rate.  

If one adjusts the observed incidents for the population of the three counties in which they occurred (1,557,774 from the 2010 census) we find a rate of 3.19 incidents per million which is considerably higher than the national rate 0.25 incidents/million.  If we enter this number into the formula (rounded down to three to make it an integer) we find a probability value of 0.00203 for having exactly three mass shootings here over the period 2000-2018.  The cumulative probability of observing 3 or more shooting per million given the national rate is 0.00216.

Mother Jones Map for Mass Shootings for 1982-2018. Only two incidents from SW PA were included.
If we consider the number of fatalities in last Saturdays shooting, Hissrich is right that the attacks represent a new level of violence here similar to Parkland, or Columbine.  Looking at the number of past mass shootings in the context of the population it looks as though they are more common here than in other parts of the country (though it is not the only hotspot for them as can be seen in the map above).  If drug/gang and domestic violence related shootings are included the numbers would look more horrific for local and the national map.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Social Media for the Lindsey Williams/Jeremy Shaffer State Senate Race

On September 29, at the Homecoming parade for Shaler High School I met Lyndsey Williams who is running for the PA State Senate post for district 38.  This is a district once held by Jim Ferlo who was an outspoken advocate for single payer/medicare for all for decades.  In 2014 his district was redrawn to include much of the north hills above Pittsburgh which was traditionally Republican to drive him out of office.  It worked.  He stepped down and was replaced by Republican Randy Vulakovich.

Last may Vulakovich lost the primary for his seat to Jeremy Shaffer by 59-41%.  Shaffer is now facing Democrat Lindsey Williams.  Attention has been paid to this race as Shaffer's campaign has been running ads and distributing fake yard signs to label Williams a socialist in the same vain as Lenin.  She admits to joining the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) but did not receive their endorsement.

I thought I would take a look at what impact this "socialist" attack strategy is having on the race.  As there normally are no public polls for state Senate races I thought I would take a look at the candidates social media followings as a proxy for the strength of their campaigns.  In my last post I recorded the Facebook and Twitter followings for candidates in nine races Cambria County as I did in 2016.  Back then Facebook followings in these predicted the winner in eight of the nine races considered.  As of this writing, Williams has 1,522 followers on her campaign Facebook page and 1,339 on her campaign Twitter page.  Jeremy Shaffer has 2,034 followers on Facebook and 193 on Twitter.  

Usually candidates don't go negative on their opponents unless they see them as a threat.  I don't know what their followings were before this negative campaign began.  These numbers will have to be updated before the election to give a clearer picture of the "socialist" ads impact.  She has told her supporters to leave those yard ads alone so she may not see them as a serious threat.

I do have a new article published on Darply looking at changes in voter registration in Cambria County since the 2014 and 2016 elections.  I encourage you all to check it out.


PA Election 2018: Will Facebook and Twitter Followings Predict Winners?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pitt & PSU going private: Shifting the Tax Burden to College Families & A Bigger Story Than the Pitt Bomb Threats & Joe Paterno

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, in his zeal to hold the line on taxes, is requiring even more cuts in higher education which are forcing the state related universities (Pitt, Penn State, Temple, and Lincoln) to consider going private which would mean a drastic rise in tuition (Carnegie Mellon charges about $50,000/year for tuition room and board).  Penn State has a total enrollment of about 95,000 students, Pitt 28,000, Lincoln 2,600, and Temple has 37,000.  This would mean a total of 162,600 students and their parents who could be adversely effected if draconian cuts go into effect.  

This should be a bigger story than the Jerry Sandusky scandal which led to Joe Paterno's firing and subsequent death.  Governor Corbett, in his zeal to hold the line on taxes is not really saving anyone money.  As stated before education is one of the few places he can cut services because of entitlement programs.  He is just shifting the cost burden onto those who most often can afford it the least.  This could have serious consequences for the future of the Commonwealth (another term for state) as colleges universities are places for developing new ideas and young minds.  Pitt and Penn State have put out public appeals which can be read in the links below.  Please contact your state legislators and Governor Corbett to keep this from happening. 

Penn State must remain a public university

Rick Santorum may think Obama "a snob" for wanting others to have a college education but Santorum had a nice affordable education at Penn State (he's on the right with a pipe with his frat buddies) and an MBA from Pitt which led to his law degree from Dickinson (It's law school is affiliated with Penn State). Where would he be now if he hadn't had that education?  It probably would be a lot more difficult for him to challenge Mitt Romney right now for the GOP Presidential nomination.


Recently there has been a rash of 100+ bomb threats on the University of Pittsburgh main campus, some of them in the middle of the night.  Campus security has been ramped up and there is a $50,000 reward for information leading to the responsible party's capture.  So far the threats have been a nuisance.  A real attack would likely have little or no warning.  Theories abound about who is responsible.  I stay away from conspiracy theories and won't speculate now about the culprit but I will say that if Pitt goes private next year a lot of students will wish they had the reward money.  The Associated Press is not taking the time to cover this story.


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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Two Years Ago in Stanton Heights

On April 4,2009 I was eating breakfast in my apartment when my dad called me to tell me that there was a police standoff in my neighborhood.  I turned on the news and saw that there was a swat team called to Stanton Heights about a mile from where I live.  I'm not going to rehash the events of that tragic day, you can find a summary of the events and media coverage of that day at the link below.

Who Is Richard Poplawski?

I did not know the shooter Richard Poplawski or his victims Officers Eric Kelly (who lived in the neighborhood), Paul Sciullo, or Stephen Mayhle.  However I do know the neighborhood in which Kelly and Poplawski lived. This incident gives the wrong impression of the neighborhood for those who are unfamiliar.  Many of my readers would like living here.

The house where it happened is still boarded up and will likely be torn down.  A few feet away there is a gorgeous view of the Allegheny River.  Two blocks away there is an organic community farm.  Two miles away is the Pittsburgh Zoo.  The neighborhood is racially diverse, very quiet, and has low crime as can be seen in the map in the upper right hand corner of the map.  (I know I sound like a real estate agent).  That summer in my back yard a doe kept her two fawns as they grew up.  Here is a video of them as they were very young.

This incident (which maybe coincidentally or maybe not occurred on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination) illustrates how insidious the effects of right wing propaganda can be.  Richard Poplawski was a big follower of right wing pundits like Glenn Beck.  At least one other near assassin who was stopped by police in San Francisco was Byron Williams who admitted to Media Matters that he was inspired by Beck to try to attack the Tides Foundation. A discussion of this can be seen here.

This Monday evening at 6:45 at Sunnyside Elementary and the corner of Stanton & Woodbine Avenues there will be candlelight vigils to remember the victims of the shooting.  The case is expected to come to trial this summer.


The trial of Richard Poplawski is now going on and coverage of it can be seen here with chilling details.  He has been sentenced to death.

The Trial of Richard Poplawski

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