Wolf Administration: Medical Device Company OraSure Expansion to Increase COVID-19 Testing Capabilities, Bring New Jobs

Wolf Administration: Medical Device Company OraSure Expansion to Increase COVID-19 Testing Capabilities, Bring New Jobs

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced that OraSure Technologies Inc., a developer and manufacturer of rapid diagnostic tests, collection and stabilization devices headquartered in Northampton County, will expand its manufacturing operations in the Lehigh Valley, creating 177 new, full-time jobs and retaining 233 jobs.

“At a time when the commonwealth is ramping up COVID-19 testing, OraSure Technologies’ expansion will bring both economic opportunities to the region and increased testing accessibility,” said Gov. Wolf. “OraSure Technologies has been a staple in Bethlehem for decades, and my administration is pleased to support their expansion in the commonwealth.”

OraSure received a funding proposal from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) for a $531,000 Pennsylvania First grant and $531,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits to be distributed upon creation of the new jobs. The company may also be eligible for the Manufacturing Tax Credit (MTC) program and the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit program.

“OraSure’s expansion means so much for Pennsylvania, including new career opportunities in the Lehigh Valley and increased testing capability for the state as a whole,” said DCED Secretary Dennis Davin. “As the commonwealth reopens safely, quick, accessible and accurate testing is critical for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and as we keep the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians our first priority.”

OraSure (NASDAQ: OSUR) is developing a rapid antigen self-test that would detect active COVID-19 infection with no need to transport samples to a lab for processing. Individuals would be able to easily self-collect a sample and read the results themselves a short time later. The company intends to submit the antigen test to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization allowing for the rapid self-test to debut into the U.S. market.

OraSure is also developing a highly accurate, lab-based Antibody ELISA Test that would detect prior COVID-19 infection. The company plans to submit the ELISA test to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.

​“One of the keys to stopping the spread of COVID-19 is expanding access to testing,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “I want to thank OraSure for its commitment to saving lives, not just in Pennsylvania, but throughout the world.”

The project was coordinated by the Governor’s Action Team, an experienced group of economic development professionals who report directly to the governor and work with businesses that are considering locating or expanding in Pennsylvania. The company has pledged to invest $7.5 million into the project.

The expansion will support the creation of 177 well-paying manufacturing jobs at OraSure Technologies’ four Bethlehem locations.

“OraSure has a legacy of helping to solve the world’s most difficult diagnostic challenges. Increased COVID-19 testing will be critical as we reopen our economy. We believe our rapid antigen test will be a game changer that enables frequent testing with fast results,” said OraSure President and CEO Stephen S. Tang, Ph.D. “We are proud of our dedicated Pennsylvania team members and the extraordinary work they do. We thank Governor Wolf and his team for the ability to retain and grow our Bethlehem workforce.”

OraSure’s portfolio of products is sold globally to clinical laboratories, hospitals, physician’s offices, clinics, public health and community-based organizations, research institutions, government agencies, pharma, commercial entities and direct to consumers.

Reese, Topper Unveil Legislation Regarding Sports, Extracurricular Activities and Educational Opportunities for Upcoming School Year

HARRISBURG – Today, Reps. Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland/Somerset) and Jesse Topper (R-Bedford/Franklin/Fulton) joined together to unveil two pieces of legislation that will impact sports, extracurricular activities and educational opportunities for students during the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

Last week, the Wolf administration abruptly announced they recommend there be no high school sports until Jan. 1, 2021. This response came as a shock to everyone, including PIAA officials who had already made the determination to move forward with school sports in the fall. As already acknowledged by the Wolf administration, their recommendation to stop school sports until January was issued without evidence, science or data to back it up.

With the 2020-21 school year rapidly approaching and guidance from the administration continuing to change, students, parents and communities need clear and transparent direction for how extracurricular activities will occur in the fall without worrying that the guidance will change at any minute.

Reese’s legislation, House Bill 2787, would allow Pennsylvania’s local school districts to make decisions regarding fall sports and activities.

“The governor’s announcement to stop all high school sports until Jan.1 came as a complete shock to students, parents and even PIAA officials,” said Reese. “Why now, right before the academic year begins, are schools not able to make their own decisions about sports? Will similar announcements be forthcoming regarding other extracurricular activities? These should be local decisions driven by local circumstances and included in each school’s athletic, health and safety plan.”

Topper’s legislation, House Bill 2788, will allow students and families to have the option to continue the student’s education and extracurricular activities for an additional year to make up for the loss of instruction and competition during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years.

“We must provide options for our students and their families who have already been robbed of so much,” Topper said. “Students in Pennsylvania must have access to exceptional educational opportunities and if they don’t, then we’re simply not doing our job.”

The bills will go to the House Education Committee for consideration.

President Trump: Some men insulted that Biden vowed to name female VP

Trump: Some men insulted that Biden vowed to name female VP
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is criticizing his Democratic rival’s vice presidential selection process, saying some men are “insulted” by Joe Biden’s promise to select a woman as his running mate. In an interview with Fox Sports Radio on Tuesday, Trump said, “I would be inclined to go a different route than what he’s done.” He says Biden “roped himself off into, you know, a certain group of people.” Biden is expected to announce his running mate this week ahead of the Democratic National Convention. Of Biden vowing to pick a woman, Trump says, “Some people would say that men are insulted by that. And some people would say it’s fine.”

AAA: Western PA Gas Prices Rise Slightly; National Average Not Swayed by Hurricane

AAA: Western PA Gas Prices Rise Slightly; National Average Not Swayed by Hurricane
The average price of gasoline across Western Pennsylvania increased three cents this week to $2.464 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s Gas Price Report.

This week’s average prices: Western Pennsylvania Average                  $2.464
Average price during the week of August 3, 2020                                     $2.433
Average price during the week of August 12, 2019                                   $2.861

The average price of unleaded self-serve gasoline in various areas:      

$2.493      Altoona
$2.450      Beaver
$2.477      Bradford
$2.470      Brookville
$2.451      Butler
$2.457      Clarion
$2.427      DuBois
$2.483      Erie
$2.399      Greensburg
$2.489      Indiana
$2.484      Jeannette
$2.467      Kittanning
$2.482      Latrobe
$2.490      Meadville
$2.504      Mercer
$2.412      New Castle
$2.486      New Kensington
$2.499      Oil City
$2.449      Pittsburgh

$2.420      Sharon
$2.492      Uniontown
$2.499      Warren
$2.400      Washington

Trend Analysis:
On the week, the national average is down a penny from last Monday to $2.17. Most states, aside from Utah (+9 cents), Michigan (+6 cents), and Kentucky (-4 cents), fluctuated no more than three cents.  The majority saw gas prices decrease minimally – by one to two cents, or had no change at the pump. Today’s average is two cents less than last month and 49 cents cheaper than a year ago, with August pricing out to be the second cheapest start to the month in more than a decade.

In the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) weekly report, gas demand fell from 8.8 million b/d to 8.6 million b/d while stocks held steady at 247 million barrels.

 

While Hurricane Isaias did not disrupt gas prices, the 2020 hurricane season is far from over. Last week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released the association’s annual August update, which revised the May forecast from 13 to 19 storms to 19-25 through the end of November. This year’s season could be one of the busiest as it has already produced a record-setting nine named storms. Major storms and hurricanes that take crude and gasoline infrastructure and refineries offline have the largest impact on gas prices.

 

One positive factor for this year, U.S. gasoline supply is plentiful sitting at a 17 million barrels year-over-year surplus. If a major storm or hurricane does hit the U.S., it will be a matter of short-term shortages and how quickly gasoline stocks can get to areas of need.

 

At the end of Friday’s formal trading session, West Texas Intermediate decreased by 71 cents to settle at $41.22 per barrel. Domestic crude prices decreased last week due to a weak U.S. dollar and after EIA’s weekly report revealed that total domestic inventories decreased by 7.4 million barrels, bringing total domestic stocks to 518.6 million barrels. The decrease in total supply, amid low gasoline demand, could mean that the domestic crude market is rebalancing. Crude prices have the potential to stabilize this week if EIA’s report shows continued growth in demand alongside a reduction in supply.

Motorists can find current gas prices nationwide, statewide, and countywide at GasPrices.AAA.com.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 78 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Penns

Constraints gone, GOP ramps up effort to monitor voting

Constraints gone, GOP ramps up effort to monitor voting
By ERIC TUCKER and NICHOLAS RICCARDI Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican Party heads into its first presidential contest this November free from decades-old legal constraints on the use of volunteers to monitor the polls on Election Day. It’s a boon for a party that has consistently raised the specter of voting fraud. But it’s also a concern for Democrats and voting rights groups. They fear the planned influx of tens of thousands of poll watchers under the imprimatur of the Republican National Committee is a thinly veiled effort to suppress Democratic turnout, particularly in minority communities.

Pennsylvania may seek federal loan to pay jobless benefits

Pennsylvania may seek federal loan to pay jobless benefits
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania has contacted the U.S. Department of Labor about a loan to prop up its unemployment compensation trust fund as President Donald Trump pushes states to help pay for an extension of federal unemployment benefits. Gov. Tom Wolf’s office said it was waiting for federal guidance to understand the full impact of Trump’s executive order. It’s not clear whether Trump has the constitutional authority to extend federal unemployment benefits by executive order or whether states will sign on. Under Trump’s plan, the $400 a week requires a state to commit to providing $100.

Pro wrestling star James ‘Kamala’ Harris dies at 70

Pro wrestling star James ‘Kamala’ Harris dies at 70
By RUSSELL CONTRERAS Associated Press
Former professional wrestler James Harris has died at the age of 70. The Mississippi-born sharecropper gained international fame as “Kamala the Ugandan Giant.” World Wrestling Entertainment confirmed his death in a statement Sunday. The man who co-wrote Harris’ autobiography says Harris died from COVID-19. Harris’ wrestling career took off under the gimmick of Kamala after other characters failed. He’d come to the ring in body paint and a spear before taking on the likes of babyface wrestlers the Junkyard Dog, Hacksaw Butch Reed, and later Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker. He recently had his legs amputated because of diabetes.

Francona returning to manage Indians after week of rest

Francona returning to manage Indians after week of rest
By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona will return to the team Tuesday after missing more than a week so he could rest while dealing with a gastrointestinal condition. The team says Francona will be in the dugout when the Indians open a two-game home series against the Chicago Cubs. Francona has missed Cleveland’s past eight games with the gastrointestinal issue, which has bothered him since spring training. The 61-year-old skipped the Indians’ weekend trip to Chicago to get extra rest. Francona is in his eighth season with Cleveland.

Reese, Topper to Unveil Legislation Regarding Sports, Extracurricular Activities and Educational Opportunities for Upcoming School Year

Reps. Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland/Somerset) and Jesse Topper (R-Bedford/Franklin/Fulton) will host a press conference to unveil two pieces of legislation that will impact sports, extracurricular activities and educational opportunities for students during the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

Last week, the Wolf administration abruptly announced that they recommend that there be no high school sports until Jan. 1, 2021. As already acknowledged by the administration, this recommendation was issued without evidence, science or data to back it up.

With the 2020-21 school year rapidly approaching and guidance from the Wolf administration continuing to change, students, parents and communities need clear and transparent direction for how extracurricular activities will occur in the fall without worrying that the guidance will change at any minute.

Reese’s legislation would allow Pennsylvania’s local school districts to make decisions regarding fall sports and activities.

Topper’s legislation will allow students and families to have the option to continue their education and extracurricular activities for an additional year to make up for the loss of instruction and competition during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years.

Pittsburgh Penguins Team Up with Pennsylvania Department of State and Allegheny County on Voting Initiatives  

Pittsburgh Penguins Team Up with Pennsylvania Department of State and Allegheny County on Voting Initiatives  

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar today announced a championship collaboration among the Department of State, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Allegheny County, in a spirited initiative to boost voter participation and assist election administration for the November election.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are the first NHL team in the country to announce such a collaboration. Additional Pennsylvania professional teams and athletes are expected to join similar collaborations soon.

“Pennsylvania is home to outstanding professional teams and athletes, and regardless of what team you root for, we can all agree that voting is a fundamental right of every fan,” said Secretary Boockvar. “The Department of State is excited to work with the Penguins to get the puck to the net and strengthen secure and accessible voting options in November.”

The collaboration announced today has been inspired by the national campaigns led by More Than a Vote, which aims to expand voting rights and is driven by inspirational professional athletes such as LeBron James.

“The Pittsburgh Penguins are proud to join in supporting this initiative to help increase voter participation and expand opportunities for voting,” said Ron Burkle, co-owner of the Penguins. “We appreciate Governor Wolf, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Secretary Kathy Boockvar for bringing us all together to help secure our most cherished American freedom of the right to vote.”

The Pittsburgh Penguins are working in conjunction with Allegheny County and the Department of State to explore initiatives such as volunteering as and helping to recruit poll workers, educating the public about voting, and sponsoring get-out-the-vote campaigns.

“As an athlete born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, I’m thrilled to see a hometown sports franchise step up in partnership with government leaders to ensure that everyone can safely vote during the ongoing public health crisis,” said Andrew Hawkins, More Than A Vote member, former NFL wide receiver and Johnstown native. “Their willingness to encourage employees to serve as poll workers will address one of the greatest challenges we face as a democracy this year. These are the types of innovative solutions that will pay dividends in the form of high voter turnout in Allegheny County this fall. We look forward to seeing similar partnerships throughout the Keystone State in the coming weeks.”

The Penguins also announced they will be providing a company-wide paid day off on election day to encourage all staff members to vote, volunteer as poll workers, and advocate for civic engagement.

“We are delighted to partner with the Penguins for such an important initiative,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and it’s absolutely imperative that we have the resources, including personnel, to be able to administer our elections. We’re hopeful that this effort by the Penguins catches on and that we see even more businesses and organizations in our community offer their employees the ability to participate more fully in this democratic process.”

To learn more about voting in Pennsylvania and to apply for a mail-in ballot for the November 3 election, visit votesPA.com.