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Penn State: COVID-19 Numbers Show Declines, But “Too Early” To Say If It’s A Trend

Two masked students walking on the Penn State University Park campus
Min Xian
Penn State is seeing some declines in positive COVID-19 results among University Park students, but says it is "too early" to say if it is a trend.

Positive COVID-19 tests among Penn State University Park students were down by 30% last week from the week before, according to Tuesday’s dashboard update

The new total number of cases among University Park students for the week of Sept. 25 to Oct. 1 is 485, about two-thirds of the previous week’s 694.

“We are seeing some declines in our positive results, particularly in the on-demand surveillance testing, which is encouraging, but it is too early to draw conclusions about a possible declining trend,” Kelly Wolgast, director of Penn State’s COVID-19 Operations Control Center, said in a statement.

There are 286 news cases among University Park students since the dashboard last updated on Friday. Ninety-five of those were reported for the period of Oct. 2 to 4.

The university began offering walk-in testing for its employees last week. Tuesday’s update showed three new cases among University Park employees for a total of six. One new positive from an employee at the New Kensington campus was added. Penn State said no other employee positives were reported for the time period.

The Altoona campus added 19 new cases for the week of Sept. 25 to Oct. 1. Two cases were added to both the Beaver campus and Penn State Hershey. Berks had one new case during that time.

Penn State said 2,461 of the total 2,964 cases among University Park students are no longer active. There are 46 students in quarantine and 110 in isolation.

University Provost Nick Jones reminded students during a virtual town hall Sunday that they are responsible for participating in the random surveillance testing program. Penn State announced the following day that the spring semester will begin later in January than usual with no spring break. 

“All of the mitigation efforts in place during the fall will continue to be in place in the spring, such as required wearing of face masks, social distancing, a prohibition on large gatherings, and both our random and on-demand testing,” Wolgast said.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced Tuesday that the state is updating its mandates on crowd size limits, allowing up to 7,500 people for the largest outdoor venues, effective Friday. 

Jones said during the Sunday town hall that the Big Ten is not allowing fans at games this football season, but the university is “exploring options for outdoor gatherings specifically for University Park students to watch football games.”

Min Xian reported at WPSU from 2016-2022.
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