Centre County

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

 

State College Borough Council voted Tuesday to approve an ordinance requiring mask-wearing in public and limiting most gatherings to 10 people in an effort to keep the COVID-19 pandemic in check after Penn State's fall semester starts.

Someone who violates the ordinance can face a $300 fine. 

Before the vote, Boalsburg’s Carla Myers said she hoped council would pass the ordinance ahead of students’ return to State College later this month.

Sophomore Joshua Kouassi sits outside a restaurant
Joshua Kouassi

 

While many Penn State students are set to return to the University Park campus for the fall semester in less than a month, some are worried about what school will look like amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Penn State President Eric Barron speaking
Anne Danahy / WPSU

 

Penn State hosted a virtual town hall on its COVID-19 plans for the fall semester Thursday, including testing for students, faculty and staff amid the pandemic. 

  

The BlackAtPennState logo.
BlackAtPennState

 

Since June 27, an Instagram account called “BlackAtPennState” has shared anonymous stories of racism from Black Penn State students, graduates and staff. WPSU intern Andrew Destin talked with the Instagram account creator, a Black student at Penn State who has chosen to keep his identity confidential out of concern for his safety.  

 

Bryan Peasley and his mom, Debbie at a Penn State football game.
Debbie Peasley

 

  The State College Area School District will be offering three different forms of learning to its students for the coming fall semester. Families have until Tuesday to decide what form of education works for them amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Office of Unemployment Compensation website
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

 

 

Since March 15, Pennsylvania has paid out more than $24 billion in unemployment benefits, according to the state's Department of Labor and Industry. But some central Pennsylvania residents, many of whom were laid off because of coronavirus shutdowns, are eligible for unemployment compensation aren't getting it. 

Emily Reddy / WPSU

 

 

In some parts of central and northern Pennsylvania, arts festivals are a summer tradition. But 2020 has been a tough year for festivals. As the COVID-19 pandemic took shape, many such events were canceled.

 

Rick Bryant, director of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College, estimates that 99% of arts festivals around the country are canceled this summer.  

 

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.

 

Junior Jon Flatley at the Nittany Lion Shrine.
Jon Flatley

 

 

    

Penn State leaders hosted a virtual town hall for parents and students on Monday to clarify any concerns about the university’s "Back to State" plan for returning to school in the fall. Some students say their questions remain unanswered.

Jacqueline Larma / Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania House has turned to a seven-term Republican member to become its next speaker, elevating him to the chamber's top job a week after his predecessor stepped down in mid-term. The Monday vote for Rep. Bryan Cutler of Lancaster County made him the House's presiding officer, one step up from the job of majority leader, a post he held for nearly two years. After he was sworn in, Cutler spoke of the state's founder, William Penn, as well as the challenges the state currently faces. Republicans elected Rep.

 

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.

 

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

Penn State announced Monday it will move a virtual town hall on the return to in-person instruction for the fall semester because it fell on Juneteenth.

Primary election results are completed a week after the election. More than half of all votes cast in Centre County were mailed ballots.
Min Xian / WPSU

Primary election results are completed a week after the election and, in Centre County, voter turnout nearly matched the 2016 primary’s number. 

According to unofficial totals posted by the county, more than 36% of registered voters voted in last Tuesday's primary. In 2016, it was 37%.

State College's First 'Pride Parade' Goes Virtual

Jun 11, 2020
Altoona held its first Pride parade on Oct. 11, 2019. Members of the Pride Alliance at Penn State Altoona carried a balloon display that said "PRIDE."
Min Xian / WPSU

 

On Saturday, State College will host its first-ever Pride parade. The parade, which originally would have gone through downtown, will be entirely virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In this file photo from July 2018, Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna spoke at a town hall in Philipsburg on opioids.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna, the Centre County sheriff, and police chiefs from State College and Bellefonte, Spring, Patton, and Ferguson Townships and Penn State released statements Thursday on racial inequities in the United States and a police officer’s oath to protect and serve. 

In-person turnout for the primary election Tuesday was low in Centre County.
Min Xian / WPSU

In-person turnout for the primary election Tuesday was low in Centre County. Many voters opted to vote by mail, an option significantly expanded last year and especially encouraged because of COVID-19.

Jordan Emely is a judge of elections in State College. About ten percent of the voters registered in his precinct had sent in their mail-in ballots before the primary. 

Junior Lexy Leidlein at a Penn State football game.
Lexy Leidlein

Junior journalism major Lexy Leidlein is back home in her childhood bedroom in Waterbury, Connecticut. In mid-May she visited State College to move out of her dorm. While she was in town, Leidlein noticed several downtown houses hosting “porch parties.” It made her think students will not follow social distancing protocols. 

Primary election results are completed a week after the election. More than half of all votes cast in Centre County were mailed ballots.
Min Xian / WPSU

Tuesday is primary election day in Pennsylvania, which the state postponed from April because of the coronavirus. Besides the date change, this year’s primary will also feel different with potentially longer lines at polling places even though fewer voters are expected to show up. 

Denise Meyer, an election judge in Centre County, said she’ll be working at her precinct in Ferguson Township for the primary, because she feels an obligation.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf confirmed during a press conference Tuesday that Centre County will move from the yellow to the green phase of reopening this Friday. Centre County Commissioners voted unanimously earlier Tuesday to ask Wolf to move up the county's reopening, after first asking him to delay it until June 5

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections said it will begin a phased reopening for all state correctional facilities next Tuesday. SCI Rockview, like others, will see some coronavirus restrictions lifted.
Min Xian / WPSU

A phased reopening process for Pennsylvania state prisons will begin next Tuesday and all 25 state correctional facilities will see some coronavirus restrictions lifted, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections announced Friday.

Eric Barron
Ralph Wilson, File / AP Photo

Penn State is still aiming to bring students back to its campuses in the fall, and is coming up with plans for how to do that safely. That was one of the topics during a virtual town hall university leaders held Tuesday.

  

Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims is leading a task force focused on the return to campus and community.

 

Sixth grader Lauren Dawson doing schoolwork at home on a computer.
Mike Dawson

You’ve probably heard stories about what it means to be an adult working from home or out of work. But, what’s it like being a young person out of school? K through 12 students have been at home since March, and WPSU talked with some of those students from central Pennsylvania about what they think of not going to back for the rest of school year and what they’re looking forward to.

Here's some of what they had to say:

My name is Lauren Dawson. I’m in sixth grade, and I go to Mount Nittany Middle School. (Centre County)

A teacher reads to kids at Step by Step School for Early Learning in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

In some ways, Rachel Johnson is grateful for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s mid-March business shutdown order: it took the agonizing decision over whether to close the child care center she runs with her husband out of their hands.

“It was sad and scary, but in a way, easy, because the choice was made for us,” said Johnson, 36, who runs Step by Step School for Early Learning in Centre County. “It was like, ‘Ok, we have to close.’ There was nothing to think about.”

Some businesses are taking a cautious approach to reopening on Friday.
AP Photo / Mark Scolforo

Tommy Songer, an owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in the State College area, said he and about 20 agents he employs are getting back to work Friday to meet what he called a “pent up demand.”

“Most of them have clients that either want to see a home because they're working with buyers or they have listings that have been waiting for buyers to be able to see the homes,” Songer said. 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced Friday that 24 counties in northwest and north-central parts of the state will be the first to reopen in a limited capacity starting May 8.
Office of the Governor

Updated 3:40 p.m. Friday

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced Friday that 24 counties in northwest and northcentral parts of the state will be the first to reopen in a limited capacity starting May 8.

Those counties are Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, and Warren.

Centre County United Way

Centre County United Way is hosting a virtual concert Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. to raise money for local residents in need.

 

The Live United Live online concert will kick off on Centre County United Way’s Facebook page. Anybody that tunes in can see performances from 25 Central Pennsylvania bands and artists like Pure Cane Sugar, Biscuit Jam, and Richard Biever and Family.

 

The Rivet Manufactures PPE For State College Community

Apr 22, 2020
Camille Sogin, manager of The Rivet, shows off one of the face shields that the makerspace is manufacturing.
Camille Sogin / The Rivet

State College’s The Rivet is a makerspace dedicated to sharing knowledge and manufacturing equipment like laser cutters and 3D printers. But it has found a new purpose since COVID-19 started its spread. 

Staff are now producing protective gear including face masks, face shields and even some respirator and ventilator parts for healthcare and other essential workers in the local community. This personal protective gear, or PPE, has been in short supply since the pandemic began. 

Rivet manager Camille Sogin is leading the effort. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is now providing a map of positive cases based on zip codes.
Pa. Dept. of Health

Updated at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday

Several counties including Centre, Cambria and Warren added new fatalities from COVID-19 Tuesday, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. 

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