Smart Talk Thursday: COVID questions answered

It has been almost six months since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the U.S. Since that day at the end of February, more than five million people have tested positive for the virus with 162,000 dying from it. In Pennsylvania, more than 121,000 have contracted the virus and 7,400 have died.

We have learned much COVID-19 over the past six months about symptoms, how the virus is spread, who is at risk and the role of face masks. However, many people still have questions about the virus, how to avoid exposure, what to do if you experience symptoms and the return of children to school.

Dr. John Goldman is an infectious disease specialist with UPMC Pinnacle and he joins us on Thursday’s Smart Talk to answer questions about COVID-19 and stopping the spread.

Dr. Goldman has been on Smart Talk previously to answer questions about the virus. His appearance Thursday will be a good indicator of how much has changed and that has been learned about the coronavirus.

Smart Talk Wednesday; Election lawsuits; Named streams better protected; Pa. artist designs new coin

The 2020 General election is ramping up to be the first of its kind in many ways, including the myriad of lawsuits pending in Pennsylvania.

Maintaining voter rolls and controversy surrounding new voting technology are heading to court, along with lawsuits over Pennsylvania election procedures.

Joining Smart Talk to analyze the election landscape is PA Post reporter Emily Previti.

Streams and creeks are an important part of Pennsylvania’s natural landscape. They provide habitat for native species, mitigate flooding, and offer boundless recreation opportunities.

There are more than 85-thousand miles of rivers and streams in the state, and protecting these waters is vital to their health. Only five percent of fresh-water creeks and streams in the U.S. are named; an important distinction for water conservation and pollution control. Water quality experts say that named streams are more likely to be protected from litter and unwanted runoff.

So, what goes into naming creeks and waterways? Joining Smart Talk on Wednesday is Jennifer Runyan, a researcher with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to talk about the process of naming geographic features.

This month, the U.S. Mint will release the Women’s Suffrage Centennial silver dollar coin, celebrating the milestone 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

A Philadelphia-based artist was commissioned to design the coin that pays tribute to women integral to the Suffrage movement.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the design process and her membership in the U.S. Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program is Professor Christina Hess, Chair of the Illustration Department at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design in Lancaster.

Women’s Suffrage Centennial 2020 Proof Silver Dollar, designed by artist Christina Hess. Copyright U.S. Mint.
Women’s Suffrage Reverse of Centennial 2020 Proof Silver Dollar, designed by artist Christina Hess. Copyright U.S. Mint.

Smart Talk Tuesday: How Pa. benefits from Great American Outdoors Act; Offensive mascots?

The Great American Outdoors Act will provide three billion dollars a year to conservation projects, outdoor recreation and maintenance of national parks and other public lands.

The bill signed into law by President Trump last week, with widespread bi-partisan support, is being called by at least one supporter as the most significant conservation legislation enacted in nearly half a century. However, there are those who say the money isn’t enough to cover the estimated $20 billion maintenance backlog on federally owned lands.

Tuesday’s Smart Talk explores how the Outdoors Act will impact national parks, federal land and other venues in Pennsylvania.

Appearing on the program are Lauren Imgrund, Deputy Secretary for Conservation and Technical Services, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Steven Sims, Superintendent of the Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site, and Stephanie Wein, Clean Water & Conservation Advocate, PennEnvironment.

Also on Tuesday’s show, the Black Lives Matter movement and a renewed focus on inequality and discrimination led to statues and monuments of Confederate Civil War leaders and those who may have been racist in their lifetimes being torn down or replaced.

Questioning or criticizing history wasn’t just confined to African-Americans. Criticism from Native-Americans – many of whom have been saying that sports mascots are offensive – grew louder.

Tuesday’s Smart Talk includes conversation with several people who want the Susquehanna Township High School “Indians” to change their name and mascot.

Joining us are Allyn Rosenberger, 2013 Susquehanna Township High School graduate who launched a community campaign and petition to retire the school’s mascot and James Crews, 1989 alumni of Susquehanna High School who is native American.

Smart Talk Monday: Safely voting this fall; Flu shots lead to less chance of Alzheimer’s?; Lancaster Water Week

This November’s election will be unlike any other in American history. Voter turnout and subsequently, the candidates that win or lose, could be determined by whether voters feel safe from the COVID-19 virus.

A coalition of non-profits and community leaders has formed VoteSafe PA – a group that says it is dedicated to “an efficient, accessible, secure mail-in ballot process and safe, in-person voting sites that ensure Pennsylvanians won’t have to risk their health for simply standing in line to vote.”

On Monday’s Smart Talk, we’ll learn more from VoteSafe PA co-chairs – former state House Majority Leader Dave Reed and former Congressman Patrick Murphy.

Also on Monday’s Smart Talk, new research indicates flu shots and pneumonia vaccines lead to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. On Smart Talk to tell us more about the research are Dr. Oscar Lopez, MD, Professor of Neurology, University of Pittsburgh and Sara Murphy, Vice President of Programs and Services with the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pennsylvania Chapter.

Finally, we’re in the midst of Lancaster Conservancy Water Week and that includes a series of events to clean up and protect waterways in Lancaster County.

Joining us on Monday’s program to discuss how that’s being done are Fritz Schroeder, Senior Vice President of Community Impact with the Lancaster Conservancy and Allyson Ladley Gibson, coordinator, Lancaster Clean Water Partners.

Smart Talk Wednesday; US Senator Pat Toomey; Peyton’s Law – Saving Young Hearts

Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey appears on Wednesday’s Smart Talk.

Among the issues we’ll discuss with Sen. Toomey are the on-going efforts in Congress to pass another coronavirus relief bill. So far in negotiations, Democrats have pushed a wide-ranging package that includes the continuation of $600 weekly in unemployment benefits and billions of dollars for hard hit states and cities. Republicans reportedly favor a more scaled back bill that ties unemployment benefits to workers’ incomes before the pandemic to encourage them to return to their jobs and not rely on the additional jobless payments.

Also, when 19-year-old Peyton Walker died suddenly in 2013 of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, her loss left her family reeling.

They harnessed their grief into action, starting a foundation in Peyton’s name to save other families from knowing the pain and heartache of losing a child from SCA.

Pennsylvania recently passed Peyton’s Law, making the state only the second in the country to enact legislation to educate parents about SCA and the importance of heart testing.

Peyton Walker Foundation president and Peyton’s mother Julie Walker joins us on Smart Talk to share the details.

Finally, 30 years ago the country of Iraq invaded Kuwait, their neighbor to the south and home to eight percent of the world’s oil reserves.

The American response was swift and started with a military build-up that included an international coalition of forces. Six months later, Desert Storm began to forcibly expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The war lasted only 43 days.

But the murky aftermath still clouds the legacy of what should be considered a successful ending to the Persian Gulf War.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the anniversary is Conrad Crane, Ph.D., Chief of Analysis and Research for the USARMY Heritage and Education Center.



Smart Talk Tuesday: Federal justice system adapts to pandemic; Speaking grief

Like everyone else, the federal court system has had to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the Middle District of Pennsylvania, that means jury selections and jury trials in both civil and criminal cases have been continued. The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the accused a speedy trial. Does continuing criminal cases jeopardize the right to a speedy trial?

Tuesday’s Smart Talk addresses the federal courts during the pandemic with Judge John Jones, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; Middle District U.S. Attorney David Freed; and Chief Federal Public Defender for the Middle District Heidi Freese.

Also, it’s safe to say that more people than normal are grieving the death of a loved one in 2020 considering 160,000 people have died in the U.S. from the novel coronavirus since February.

However, grief is not a subject many people know how to discuss.

Smart Talk will have a conversation about grief on Tuesday’s program with Patti Anewalt, PhD, Director of the Pathways Center for Grief & Loss with Hospice & Community Care in Lancaster .

Watch the documentary Speaking Grief that explores the transformative experience of losing a family member in a death- and grief-avoidant society, Thursday, August 13, at 8 p.m. on WITF-TV.

Smart Talk Monday; What Pa. voters are saying in latest F&M poll

The latest Franklin and Marshall College poll of registered voters released this week noted several key findings.

Pennsylvanians are “generally” optimistic that the state is “heading in the right direction.” Although, that percentage dropped from the October 2019 poll.

Respondents also consider COVID-19 the most important problem facing the state and may, as a result, feel less optimistic about their finances. The 2020 general election and voter intentions were also key poll questions.

Franklin and Marshall College political analyst and pollster Dr. G. Terry Madonna, Ph.D., appears on Monday’s Smart Talk to discuss the results and provide perspective.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, social distancing and mask-wearing have been important tools in the plan to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Different countries and even communities have been slower to advocate for and require masks in public places. Many public health officials believe this is the reason the U.S. is experiencing a COVID-19 surge in different parts of the country.

A recent study on mask wearers found a gender divide in mask wearing, with men more likely to resist wearing masks. So, is there a correlation between mask wearing and masculinity?

Joining Smart Talk to explore the attitudes toward mask-wearing is study author Rolfe Peterson, Ph.D., assistant professor of Political Science at Susquehanna University.

Share your questions with us.

Some tips:

  • This tool works best in Safari and Chrome browsers.
  • Say your name and where you’re from (Hi, this is Scott from Middletown)
  • Speak directly toward your device.
  • Keep your message concise. Recordings are limited to 90 seconds.
  • Listen to your message when you’re done recording. Do-overs are allowed!

Smart Talk Thursday; Pennsylvania was ‘ground-zero’ in the fight for disability rights

The opportunity to work, buy things for yourself, participate in community; to enjoy daily life in mainstream America is something that most people take for granted.

For Americans living with a disability, their right to live a free and open life was never actually guaranteed until thirty years ago.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush, to prevent discrimination against the disabled. The ADA was modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to be an “equal opportunity” law for people with any kind of physical or cognitive disability.

Pennsylvania, in many ways, was central to the debate advocating for the deinstitutionalization of people living with disabilities, particularly individuals with cognitive impairment. Pennhurst State School and Hospital in Eastern Pennsylvania was one of nearly 300-like institutions in the United States but it became a symbol for the disability civil rights movement.

I go home chronicles the role institutionalization played in the life of people with intellectual disabilities in 1960s America and shines a light on life at the Pennhurst State School and Hospital. The WITF Original Production I go home broadcasts Sunday at noon on WITF TV.

Two authors join Smart Talk Thursday to share the details of a book they co-authored and edited, Pennhurst and the Struggle for Disability Rights.

Author Dennis Downey, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of History, Millersville University, and co-author Jim Conroy, Ph.D., a social science researcher and Co-President of the Pennhurst Memorial Alliance appear on Smart Talk, along with Debbie Robinson, a self-advocate and the Executive Director of Speaking for Ourselves. Robinson was present at the signing of the ADA of 1990 and will share her observations.

Smart Talk Wednesday: Opening schools, the debate continues

It has become apparent that there are many questions about reopening schools this fall. While the number of COVID-19 cases increase in some parts of the country and even some places in Pennsylvania, how students will be educated in a safe environment is of major concern for parents, teachers and administrators.

Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts are devising plans that include in-person classroom instruction, classes on-line, or a hybrid of the two. Schools are planning social distancing for students and students wearing masks. They’re also considering holding in-person classes only two days a week. Buses, cafeterias, gym classes and recess are all challenges for schools.

Appearing on Wednesday’s Smart Talk to discuss how schools may reopen are John Callahan, Chief Advocacy Officer with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Rich Askey, President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Damaris Rau, Ph.D., School District of Lancaster Superintendent, and Adrian Allan, Head of School, Harrisburg Academy.

Smart Talk Tuesday; Pediatricians and school nurses weigh-in on reopening schools

The American Academy of Pediatrics advocate for a return to in-school classes but warn that re-opening schools must be done safely and based on solid health guidelines, not on politics.

It is not surprising that kids perform best when they are in school learning, but they also benefit in other ways.

Children learn social and emotional skills at school and take advantage of healthy meals and personal health support. Access to teachers and adult advocates also plays a role in keeping kids safe from abuse, as evidenced by the significant drop in abuse reports the past five months.

As important as in-school learning is to kids, there are additional health issues that medical professionals say must be evaluated before opening schools.

Joining Smart Talk to explore these topics, as well as the safe return to school are Dr. William Keough, MD, Pediatric physician and Member of the Pennsylvania Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics and Co-chair of the Chapter’s Advocacy Committee and Lori Kelley, RN, President, Pennsylvania Association of School Nurses and Practitioners.