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Penn State 'Data4Action' Focuses On COVID-19's Impact On Centre County

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A Penn State team known as Data For Action is asking Centre County residents to complete a survey about COVID-19 that's part of a larger project aimed at measuring the virus’s health, economic and social impacts on the county.


Meg Small, with the Social Science Research Institute, said having local data will mean better understanding the impact of the coronavirus to help decide how to respond.


“Not just the physical health impacts, but social, behavioral, relational, economic, the way that it’s impacted people’s lives and livelihoods," Small said.


For example, about a third of respondents so far say their lives have been significantly disrupted by the pandemic. And, 8% have either lost a job or are not working.


The Penn State team is working with Centre County government, local officials and other community groups and will provide them with them information.


The survey is anonymous, and participants can volunteer for the next part of the project: antibody testing.


Matt Ferrari, associate professor of biology, said antibody testing is one of the best ways to assess the impact of an infectious disease on a population.


“It allows us to measure not just who might be infectious at any given moment, but it gives us a record of everybody that might be previously exposed," Ferrari said.


They hope to do testing over the summer before most Penn State students come back to campus and again after students return.


“We’re in this community now where we have not yet been very much exposed to this virus, to the best of our knowledge," Ferrari said. "We anticipate that one of these days, we’re going to be exposed to it. So we have an opportunity now, as a community to come together and learn from that experience.”


So far, about 4,000 people have taken the survey, which takes about 10 minutes to complete. They’re hoping to get 10,000, including residents from all around Centre County.


For more information and to take the survey, go to


Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.
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