WESA Daily Briefing: August 11, 2020

Aug 11, 2020

News on the coronavirus pandemic, protests, 2020 election and more from around Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and southwestern Pennsylvania. 

Find all of the WESA Daily Briefing posts here

Editor's note: This post will be frequently updated with the latest news.

6:06 p.m. - Medical company receives $1 million to develop new COVID-19 test

The Wolf administration is giving a medical company more than $1 million to develop a new coronavirus test that could provide same-day results.

Chief among the concerns of Pennsylvania health experts right now is the amount of time coronavirus tests are taking to process.

Even those most in need of one currently have to wait at least 24 hours, leaving COVID-19 plenty of time to spread.

But that’s where OraSure Technologies could come in

The company says it’s ramping up development of a rapid antigen test at its Lehigh Valley plant, one that could tell if someone has an active infection the same day, and without a lab.

CEO Dr. Steven Tang says it could be ready by the end of the year.

“Our test has the potential to be a game changer, to better detect and eliminate coronavirus, as we set our goals to test anybody, anywhere, at any time,” Tang said.

The company doesn’t know how many will be produced yet, but it’s got a firm foothold in the testing market.

The test still needs approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

3:34 p.m. - Bill Cosby’s legal team files brief as the Pa. Supreme Court moves towards hearing his appeal

Cosby, who is now 83, has been serving a three to 10 year sentence for drugging and sexually assaulting a Temple University basketball program employee in 2004.

Earlier this summer, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided to take up an appeal in his case, focusing on two legal issues.

The first is whether women who accused him of sexual assault previously, but whose claims were too old to be prosecuted criminally, should have been allowed to testify in this case.

The second is whether a promise to the entertainer from the former Montgomery County District, that there would never be charges over this incident, should have been binding.

In the new filing, Cosby’s attorneys argue he should get a new trial because these conditions “stripped him of the presumption of innocence.”

3:11 p.m. - Lawsuit filed by Michael Rosfeld rejected by judge

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a former police officer acquitted in the shooting death of a Black teenager who was seeking reinstatement to another position as a university police officer. The Tribune-Review reports that the judge ruled Michael Rosfeld left his University of Pittsburgh position willingly and hadn’t presented evidence that he was forced to resign. Rosfeld was acquitted of homicide last year in the June 2018 shooting death of Antwon Rose II in East Pittsburgh. Rosfeld previously worked as a University of Pittsburgh officer and alleged that he was forced from that position after filing criminal charges against a school official’s son.

Read more here.

2:23 p.m. - Peduto, other PA mayors appeal to Congress for federal aid

With Washington in a stalemate, mayors in Pennsylvania want Congress to help them get direct budget aid from the federal government, warning that cities of all sizes face steep deficits and deep service cuts as a result of the coronavirus’ impact on the economy. Mayors say they received little in trickle down from a prior round of federal aid to cover coronavirus costs that went to states and the most heavily populated counties. Warning against more deficit spending, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey says states and counties should spend the federal aid they received in the spring before Congress considers another aid package.

Read more here.   

1:34 p.m. - Teenage employee at PA theme park assaulted in mask dispute

Authorities say a teenage employee at a children’s theme park near Philadelphia was assaulted after reminding a couple about the requirement to wear a mask. Police in Middletown Township say a man and woman assaulted the 17-year-old employee of Sesame Place shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday. Detective Lt. Steve Forman said the employee was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Middletown for treatment of injuries to his jaw and a tooth. Detectives were interviewing witnesses and viewing surveillance footage but said the suspects fled in a vehicle with New York plates.  

12:25 p.m. – Allegheny County reports 76 new COVID cases

The health department reports the new cases are the result of 986 tests taken Aug. 4-10. Those infected range in age from 7 to 94 years old.

The county also reported two new hospitalizations and one new death. The death occurred Aug. 7 and the person who died was in their 60s.

8:57 a.m. - Toomey responds to sanctions from China

Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey is responding to sanctions leveled on him by China.

Toomey is one of 11 American politicians and heads of organizations facing unspecified sanctions from China for “performing badly” on issues related to Hong Kong.

Toomey helped write a bill recently signed by president Trump that sanctioned some Chinese individuals and institutions for cracking down on pro-Democracy forces in that city.

New Jersey Representative Chris Smith was also sanctioned by China.

In a statement, Senator Toomey said, “I stand with the people of Hong Kong.”  

7:31 a.m. - Republicans aim new bills at shutdowns of schools, athletics

Republican state lawmakers in Pennsylvania say they want to give parents more power to let their children repeat a year of schooling if they feel their child didn’t get the education they needed or missed out on a year of athletics amid shutdowns during the pandemic. Rep. Jesse Topper, a Fulton County Republican, said Monday that his forthcoming legislation applies equally to parents motivated by education or athletics. Companion legislation being introduced by Rep. Mike Reese, a Westmoreland County Republican, would give school districts the power to decide whether fall sports and activities can go on, including whether spectators are permitted.