Penn State COVID-19 Departure Testing Finds 236 Positives, More Than 5,500 Tests Pending

Nov 20, 2020

As Penn State wraps up the in-person portion of the fall semester this week, 236 students university-wide have tested positive for COVID-19 from 15,600 departure tests conducted since Nov. 12, according to a release from the university Friday.

More than 5,500 results are still pending at University Park, where the majority of departure tests were administered. Penn State says results can take up to 48 hours or more and tests administered later in the week will be included in next Tuesday’s dashboard update.

There were 166 new cases at the University Park campus from Nov. 13 to 19, according to the university’s dashboard update Friday. That brings the total number of University Park students and employees who have tested positive since the beginning of the semester to 4,616. The university said the majority of those cases are no longer active.

Three commonwealth campuses had more than a dozen new positives during that same period. Altoona had 17. The Behrend campus in Erie had 38. And Harrisburg had 13.

"The available Return Home testing for all students revealed higher numbers of positive results for three of our campuses that have resident students and demonstrated the importance of conducting this testing prior to departure for the semester,” said Kelly Wolgast, director of Penn State’s COVID-19 Operations Control Center.

Wolgast said a contact tracing process has been initiated for all of those students.

As Penn State moves to fully online instruction after Nov. 20, it will continue to offer testing after the Thanksgiving holiday and throughout the winter break.

Walk-up testing will be available at the Hintz Family Alumni Center for all University Park campus students — living either on or off campus — and for employees listed in the University’s Return to Work database from noon to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from Nov. 30 through Jan. 18.

Walk-up testing has also been set up at Altoona, Behrend and Harrisburg campuses. Mail-in testing by Vault Health will also be available for students and employees approved to work.

University administrators said last week that a pre-arrival testing plan for the spring semester is in the works.

Pennsylvania added another 6,808 new cases of the coronavirus Friday, according to the state Department of Health.

To contain community spread, the Centre County Board of Commissioners has renewed a contract to provide free testing at the Nittany Mall in State College for anyone who wants a test.

The site operates on Friday, Nov. 20, Saturday, Nov. 21, and will continue from Dec. 1 to 5 and from Dec. 8 to 12, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. No appointment or referral is needed, but a photo ID or insurance card is required.

Similarly, the state is hosting a drive-thru and indoor testing clinic in Blair County, one of the counties with the highest incidence rates statewide. The free tests at the Blair County Convention Center began last Sunday and will be available from Sunday, Nov. 22 to Tuesday, Nov. 24, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. The state said up to 440 nasal swab tests can be performed each day.