The number of patients being treated for COVID-19 at Mount Nittany Medical Center grew to 13 Friday, an increase in patients that comes from both long-term care facilities and the community, according to a hospital announcement.
That’s about double the recent average of six to eight patients over the past two weeks.
The 13 hospitalized patients are between the ages of 33 and 96, according to an announcement from Mount Nittany. The facility has had younger patients as well. Recent COVID patients at the hospital have included a 19-year-old, for example.
Penn State has continued with in-person classes at University Park, despite the large number of student cases. The administration has said it is monitoring other factors as well, including hospitalizations.
Because of the upswing, Mount Nittany activated its “surge capacity plan.” The hospital is rescheduling elective procedures and surgeries that require an overnight admission.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been diligently monitoring COVID-19 cases in our community and planning our response if the number of hospitalized cases rose," said Dr. Nirmal Joshi, chief medical officer. "The steps that we are taking now are prudent and realistic to ensure that we have the resources and care available for the people who need us."
The health care center has a 21-bed specialized unit to treat COVID-positive patients. It plans to evaluate the situation daily with many services continuing.
Statewide, the number of cases continues to grow, reaching 169,308 Friday. That’s a 1,380-case increase from the day before. It’s the largest increase since April 30, when Pennsylvania recorded 1,397 new infections. It follows a 1,376-case increase Thursday.
According to the state Department of Health, there are 3,322 known cases of COVID-19 in Centre County. That’s a 16% increase from a week ago. Most of the county’s cases have been tied to Penn State, occurring in the university’s 16802 zip code or the neighboring 16801 State College zip code.
Penn State has reported 2,964 cases among students and six in staff at University Park, according to its numbers Tuesday.
Some of the cases are beginning to have an effect on local schools. The Bellefonte Area School District announced on Facebook Thursday night that someone from the middle school and someone else from the high school had tested positive for the coronavirus, and those facilities would be closed Friday to allow for cleaning.
In the State College Area School District, a part-time employee at Gray’s Woods Elementary tested positive. According to the district, the employee has limited contact with students and hadn’t been in the building since Monday.
“Contact tracing was conducted by our nurses and they determined there were no close contacts with employees or students in the building,” the message says.
The school district had announced it plans to continue with in-person classes districtwide next week.
Other counties are seeing increases in COVID-19 cases as well.
Blair County has 844 coronavirus cases, up about 100 from a week ago.
Huntingdon County saw a one-day jump of 45 cases this week, from 449 cases Tuesday to 494 on Wednesday. The state Department of Health said an increase of 26 resident cases and two staff cases at long-term care facilities accounted for 28 of those new cases in Huntingdon County.