Anne Danahy

Reporter

Anne Danahy is a reporter at WPSU. She was a reporter for nearly 12 years at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, where she earned a number of awards for her coverage of issues including the impact of natural gas development on communities. 

She earned a bachelor's degree in communications from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and a master's degree in media studies from Penn State.

Before joining WPSU, she worked as a writer and editor at Strategic Communications at Penn State and with the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute before that.

She hosts a Q&A program for Centre County's government and education access station and teaches a news writing and reporting class at Penn State.  

Ways to Connect

Students outside of State College Area High School on Jan. 8, 2018.
Min Xian / WPSU

The State College Area School board voted 7 to 2 Monday night against a motion to switch entirely to online learning after two weeks in anticipation of an upswing in COVID-19 cases after the return of Penn State students and in-person classes.

 

The vote followed more than five hours of discussion and public comments during an online meeting attended by more than 700 people.

Signage for a COVID-19 collection site in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / WPSU

The State College Area School District is scheduled to return to school next week, and that’s also when Penn State classes start, raising concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19.

As questions are raised about how much cases will go up and how quickly test results are coming back, the State College Area school board will vote Monday night on whether to change its plans for in-school classes, moving entirely to remote learning after two weeks of in-person classes, at least while data about the rate of COVID-19 in the community is collected.

Students outside of State College Area High School on Jan. 8, 2018.
Min Xian / WPSU

School districts across Pennsylvania are finalizing plans for reopening classrooms and teaching students remotely as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with State College Area School District Superintendent Bob O’Donnell and school board President Amber Concepcion about how that district is preparing for the fall.

TRANSCRIPT

Doctoral student Steph Herbstritt shows the hairy ligule in switchgrass that's growing on Penn State research plot in Centre County.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

 

When COVID-19 hit Pennsylvania in March, universities moved to shut down in-person classes and suspend some lab work work and field research. For environmental scientists, that’s meant changes and delays in how work gets done.

Penn State's Beaver Stadium is usually packed for "Whiteout games," but due to COVID-19 there will be no fans this Saturday.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Pointing to health concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding them, the Big Ten announced Tuesday afternoon that it is postponing fall 2020 sports, including football.

“Our primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty and staff,” said Morton Schapiro, chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University president.

Gates to Beaver Stadium on Penn State's University Park campus in summer 2020.
Min Xian / WPSU

The presidents of the Big Ten universities are expected to vote Monday night to cancel the 2020 football season as concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic continue, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press.

Citing unnamed sources, the story says a formal announcement is expected Tuesday.

Penn State Athletics Director Sandy Barbour in a face mask at the beginning of an online press conference Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Penn State Athletics is planning for the football team to play in an empty stadium this fall, but the department does have a seating plan for about 23,000 people if the state changes the rules limiting crowd sizes.

Even with those plans, Athletic Director Sandy Barbour left open the possibility that the football team won’t play at all. 

“The virus will determine whether we play or not,” Barbour said Thursday during a press conference.

"Keep Your Distance" sign with lion's paw print
Min Xian / WPSU

 

A newly formed group called the Coalition for a Just University at Penn State hosted an online rally Wednesday, questioning the university’s plans for an in-person fall semester in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group wants the university to provide COVID-19 testing to all faculty, students and staff, publicly say staff can work remotely and give faculty control over whether they teach in-person. They're also calling for a guarantee that all full-time faculty and staff will keep their jobs and benefits in 2020-21.

Terry Engelder, professor emeritus of geosciences at Penn State, holding a large rock.
John Beale / Penn State

In 2007, Terry Engelder, then a professor of geosciences at Penn State, estimated how much natural gas could be accessed in the Marcellus Shale formation using hydrofracking. That calculation led to a drilling boom across the Marcellus region in Pennsylvania.

Widely recognized for his work, Engelder has advised state agencies and received funding from companies in the industry. Now retired and a professor emeritus, Engelder is working on a book called “A Frackademic from Appalachia.” 

In this file photo from summer 2020, a sign in front of the Mount Nittany Medical Center asks visitors to see a staff member if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
Min Xian / WPSU

The state removed 24 COVID-19 cases from Centre County’s count Thursday, reflecting corrections made to previous test results the Department of Health said were “not valid.”

Centre County saw its largest single-day jump in COVID-19 cases, increasing by 43 to 356 on Sunday. The sharp increase prompted Mount Nittany Health to contact the state Department of Health, which led to retesting.

Signage for a COVID-19 collection site in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / WPSU

Some of the positive COVID-19 test results the state Department of Health reported in Centre County Sunday are not valid, and patients whose results changed after retesting are being contacted, according to the department and Mount Nittany Health.

On Sunday, Centre County saw a 43-case jump, the largest single-day increase since the pandemic began. That brought Sunday's total to 356 confirmed and probable cases. 

Beaver Stadium at Penn State's University Park campus in July 2020.
Min Xian / WPSU

Eight Penn State athletes have tested positive for COVID-19, and results are pending on another 66, according to the athletics department.

In a statement, Athletics said as of July 24, it has conducted a total of 466 COVID-19 tests.

University athletes have been going back to campus for summer training. At the same time, the university is moving ahead with plans to return to on-campus classes in the fall.  

 

Head shot of Yassmin Gramian, PennDOT's secretary.
PennDOT

Pennsylvania is now offering driver licenses and identification cards with a gender-neutral designation for people who don’t identify as either male or female. 

The state Department of Transportation said Thursday that motorists and those needing a state-issued ID card can choose “X″ as a third option in addition to male and female.

 

PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said having an accurate identification card is critical.

 

Amy Schirf, education coordinator at the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority, in one of the authority's trucks.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Regan Hosterman, operations manager at the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority, started a truck that runs on compressed natural gas.

“Much quieter,” Hosterman said, comparing it with the old diesel trucks.

The compressed natural gas or CNG truck is not only less noisy — it’s cleaner. 

The authority’s move to CNG trucks is one of 18 cleaner fuel vehicle projects in 13 counties getting a total of $2.1 million in funding from the Department of Environmental Protection to support cleaner fuel vehicle projects around the state. 

Centre County saw its largest single-day increase of COVID-19 cases Sunday, adding 43 cases for a total of 356 confirmed and probable cases, according to data from the state Department of Health.

The 14% increase comes as the state is taking steps to try to reverse the trend of increasing case numbers before the beginning of the school year. 

Outside view of Beaver Stadium
Min Xian / WPSU

A Penn State athlete living on campus has tested positive for COVID-19, according to University Athletics.

In an email, a spokeswoman confirmed that the positive case included in the state Department of Health’s daily COVID-19 report Wednesday is the first positive report involving an Intercollegiate Athletics student-athlete.

 

The state report showed the first positive case in the 16802 zip, which is Penn State’s University Park campus.

Outside of Nittany Lion Inn
Min Xian / WPSU

There is at least one confirmed case of COVID-19 in someone living on Penn State’s University Park campus, according to Wednesday’s report from the state Department of Health.

A department spokesman confirmed that between one and four individuals in the 16802 zip code have tested positive for the coronavirus. The specific number is redacted when there are fewer than five cases in a zip code.

 

Harrisburg capitol building with roses.
Matt Rourke / AP Photo

 

Currently, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges run for election and retention in statewide races.

 

But, under a Republican-backed proposed Constitutional Amendment, the state would be split into regions. Justices and appeals court judges would no longer be statewide, but instead would be selected by region.

 

Senate majority leader Jake Corman, a Republican from Centre County, said representation across the commonwealth is unequal.

Beaver Stadium at Penn State's University Park campus in July 2020.
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State has tested a total of 178 student-athletes for COVID-19 and none of the results have come back positive so far, according to an announcement from University Athletics Wednesday. Results are pending on 31 tests.

Penn State Athletics has said that student-athletes will be tested on arrival at Penn State, on returning if they leave and if they become symptomatic. Athletes are being discouraged from leaving campus after arriving.

Terry Engelder, professor emeritus of geosciences at Penn State, holding a large rock.
John Beale / Penn State

In 2007, Terry Engelder, a professor of geosciences at Penn State, calculated that trillions of cubic feet of natural gas could be recovered from the Marcellus Shale.

 

The now-retired geologist is credited with opening the door to Marcellus Shale development. Looking back, he says the industry did make mistakes when it came to tapping into that reserve. Like not doing baseline water chemistry testing and keeping chemicals used in fracking a secret.

 

A line outside Doggie's Pub on Pugh Street in State College July 11, 2020.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Young people, many not wearing masks, lined up outside several bars in downtown State College Saturday.

 

Those scenes — Penn State students socializing, but not social distancing — have many local residents worried about what the fall semester could bring. In response, the borough is looking into its options for enforcing mask-wearing in public places.

 

Penn State announced Monday that both the Child Care Center at Hort Woods and the Bennett Family Childcare Center at University Park will reopen on Aug. 19.
Min Xian / WPSU

A group of Penn State graduate students will hold a “die-in” July 20 to protest the university administration’s decision to return to in-person classes in the fall, saying the decision risks lives to COVID-19.

“University administration is tacitly stating that there is an acceptable amount of death for a return to in-person instruction. We disagree,” said Bailey Campbell, one of the die-in’s organizers, in a news release.

Penn State Athletics Director Sandy Barbour taking off a face mask at the beginning of an online press conference Wednesday, July 1, 2020.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Penn State Athletics Director Sandy Barbour said during a news conference Wednesday that no student athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 so far out of 102 tested.

Barbour said Athletics will report its results publicly every two weeks. She said that will happen at least until students return for the fall semester, and then will be reevaluated.

The university has said it will make its overall testing results data public.

State High building
Min Xian / WPSU

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, families in the State College Area School District will decide whether to send their children to school in person or have them learn online at home.

Like other school districts in Pennsylvania, State College is planning how it will teach students when the new school year begins in the fall. The board reviewed those plans during a meeting Monday night.

A "now hiring" banner from before the coronavirus hit still hangs outside The Corner Room in downtown State College.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

In keeping with federal Centers for Disease Control guidelines, college students in Pennsylvania will be counted where they’re actually living and plan to live for most of the year — not their permanent home addresses.

 

That will help towns like Lock Haven, Bradford and State College — where Penn State’s main campus is — see if COVID-19 cases are climbing.

 

In this file, marchers participate in a May 31, 2020, protest in State College against police brutality and racism.
Min Xian / WPSU

In a special meeting Tuesday night, State College Borough Council approved a resolution calling for racial justice and the creation of a community oversight board to address bias and racism.

Council voted unanimously to create an oversight board to address discrimination, bias and racism by local government and police. The resolution calls for it to be formed by Aug. 1. Councilman Evan Myers said it was time to take action. 

“Black men and women are dying at the hands of vigilantes and police, and we need to do all we can to stop that," Myers said.

The number of cases of COVID-19 in Centre County has gone up by 11, a tie with April 7 for the largest jump the county has seen in one day.

According to the latest numbers from the state Department of Health, there are 181 confirmed cases and 14 probable cases in Centre County, for a total of 195.

Paul Clark is a professor and director of the School of Labor and Employment Relations at Penn State. He spoke with WPSU’s Anne Danahy about the push to reform police departments and what that would mean for police unions.

Penn State president Eric Barron
Ralph Wilson / AP Photo

Penn State plans to convert the Nittany Lion Inn into an isolation residence for students who have or have been exposed to COVID-19, and football fans should not expect to fill a crowded stadium in the fall even if fall sports resume.

Those were some of the topics Penn State President Eric Barron covered during a virtual town hall meeting for faculty and staff Monday.

The Nittany Lion Inn conversion will mean 79 layoffs. But, he said, most employees who the university had previously furloughed will be brought back in August.

 

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.

 

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