Centre County

Rev. Dr. Donna King standing inside the St. Paul AME Church in Bellefonte
Cheraine Stanford / WPSU

 

Pastor of Bellefonte’s St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Dr. Donna King, died on Jan. 7. King was known for her work in preserving local black history. 

People walking on the sidewalk in downtown State College
Min Xian / WPSU

Prompted by COVID-19, State College is looking into creating a health department, which would give the borough more control when responding to future pandemics and other public health issues.

Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said having a health department would let the borough be more agile when responding to situations like the significant population fluctuations that happened this year during the pandemic. State College saw most Penn State students leave in March then return in the fall.

Matt Slocum / Associated Press

A major winter storm is bringing heavy snow and sleet to Pennsylvania. Winter storm warnings continue through Thursday morning for most of the state.

"The worst of the storm is actually going to be Wednesday night into early Thursday morning," said Marisa Ferger, a meteorologist at Penn State. "It’s going to make for some very dangerous travel. So if you do have to drive, I would suggest doing it earlier in the day because it is going to be falling very fast and very hard."

A man gives a woman with a COVID-19 vaccine injection in her arm.
Jay LaPrete / AP

Mount Nittany Medical Center in Centre County is one of the hospitals in central Pennsylvania slated to get its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines this week as the state rolls out plans to distribute the vaccines.

“We have formed a task force that has been preparing for the shipment and has developed a plan for distributing the vaccines to our healthcare staff," said Mount Nittany Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nirmal Joshi.

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 number of reported COVID-19 cases in Centre County increased by 302 Friday, setting a single-day record, but the state said an oversight in reporting may be a factor in that large jump.

The county now has a total of  7,456 known cases. The previous largest single-day increase was 212 cases on Sept. 15. After that, the rise in cases in Centre County had slowed down.

Outside of Mount Nittany Medical Center showing sign.
Min Xian / WPSU

The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 broke new records both statewide and in State College Wednesday. The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported Wednesday that more than 5,500 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

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

A State College community group that’s been pushing for police reform is encouraging members of the public to voice their opinions at a public hearing the borough is holding Monday night for its 2021 proposed budget, including police funding.

“The police officers are supposed to serve and protect the community, and as of now, we don’t feel as if they’re doing that," said Tierra Williams, co-chair of the 3/20 Coalition, a local group pushing for police reforms. 

Andrew "Andy" Isola, from Port Matilda in Centre County, smiling and sitting with his daughter, Kristi Morgan.
Jim Isola


Andrew "Andy" Isola, from Port Matilda in Centre County, died from complications with COVID-19 on Oct. 27. He was 77. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with his son, Jim Isola, about what his father was like and why he tells everyone to be safe.

TRANSCRIPT

Anne Danahy: Jim Isola, thank you so much for talking with us. And I'm so sorry for your loss.

Jim Isola: Oh, no, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Anne Danahy: Can you tell us a little bit about your father, Andrew, Andy, Isola What was he like?

Rendering of new nursing home
Centre Care

All but one county in Pennsylvania now has a “substantial” level of community spread of COVID-19, according to the state. As community transmission continues to grow, long term care facilities are seeing a surge of cases as well.

Penn State Old Main building
Min Xian / WPSU

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.

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

The State College Area School District is switching to entirely remote learning after Thanksgiving through Dec. 14, as it faces staff absences due to COVID-19 and the expectation of an increase in cases after Thanksgiving.

The school district made the announcement Thursday, saying it has reached a "tipping point."

“For weeks, we have been struggling with staffing due to absences related to COVID-19 in addition to usual illnesses,” the message from Superintendent Bob O’Donnell reads.

Sam Davey / courtesy of Centre Film Festival

The Centre Film Festival is happening this weekend. It was held at the Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg last year. But this year, because of the pandemic, it’s coming to a living room near you.

 

“So we’re in our second year, and obviously we hope to continue in person next year,” says Pearl Gluck, who teaches film in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State. She’s co-founder of the Centre Film Festival. 

 

Pat Mansell / Penn State

It's Halloween: time for chilling tales of local hauntings.  And in the interview below, Matthew Swayne delivers the goods. Swayne, originally from Tyrone, Pennsylvania,  is a science writer for Penn State's Institute for Computational Sciences.  He is also the author of "Haunted Valley: the Ghosts of Penn State."

TRANSCRIPT:

ALLEN: You wrote a book on hauntings at Penn State.  How did you get interested in that?

A satellite election office for Centre County is located at Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State's University Park campus.
Kristine Allen / WPSU

Pennsylvania is a crucial battleground state in the 2020 election. And now, for the first time ever in a presidential election year, mail-in ballots are available to all registered voters in Pennsylvania, without any excuse. That means there is now actually a way for you to vote early in person.

Your polling place in won’t be open until Nov. 3.  But between now and Tuesday, there is a place you can go to vote early. 

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 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.

Photo of Peter Buck
Photo provided

The 171st Pennsylvania House District includes parts of Centre and Mifflin Counties.

Peter Buck is the Democratic candidate running for this seat against incumbent, Republican Kerry Benninghoff, in the general election this year. Buck is a former Chair of the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors in Centre County and served as a representative for the Centre Region Council of Governments. He is the academic programming coordinator at the Sustainability Institute at Penn State.

WPSU’s Min Xian talked with Buck.

TRANSCRIPT

A staff member of AMI Healthcare administered a COVID-19 test at the pop-up site at the Nittany Mall in State College on Friday, Sept. 25.
Min Xian / WPSU

Free COVID-19 testing at a pop-up site in State College will continue for another five days, as both the demand for testing among residents and the positivity rate from tests performed so far at the site remain high, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Freshman Sharif Fouda at the American School of Doha in Doha, Qatar.
Sharif Fouda

Many Penn State students tuned in to Tuesday night's presidential debate between President Donald Trump and the Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden. 

 

Freshman Sharif Fouda didn’t watch the whole debate, but said the parts he did watch were enough to sway his vote. 

A COVID-19 nasal swab test is administered to a person in a car
Min Xian / WPSU

  

Free COVID-19 testing at the Nittany Mall in State College began Friday, drawing a long line of residents, as part of the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s effort to contain the rising case numbers in Centre County.

Naomi Niyah, a graduate student at Penn State, went to the site on Friday morning. She said she hasn’t been contacted by the university for its surveillance testing program.

“I don’t like the current situation for testing so might as well do it myself here,” Niyah said. 

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

Penn State will have a football season this year after all, and despite precautions the university says it will take, concerns remain in the community about whether home games could contribute to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Penn State and other Big Ten universities voted unanimously to have a football season this fall, starting the weekend of Oct. 23.

In its announcement, the Big Ten outlined various precautions it says schools will take. Student-athletes will be tested daily, as will coaches and trainers.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Centre County saw a new spike Tuesday, which was up by 212 from Monday.
Min Xian / WPSU

The number of COVID-19 cases in Centre County saw a new spike Tuesday, which was up by 212 from Monday. This broke the previous highest single-day increase record set on Sept. 9.

There are a total of 1,449 cases in the county, the state Department of Health reported Tuesday. 

The sign outside the municipal building of College Township, Centre County
College Township

Saying a wrestling tournament violates the state’s COVID-19 rules for gatherings and has the potential to be a “super spreader” event, College Township in Centre County is trying to stop the tournament from happening this weekend.

 

Olympic Club Duals is holding the event in the C3 Sports Complex off the Benner Pike. The tournament was scheduled to start Friday afternoon and continue through Sunday.

 

Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press

In Pennsylvania, it used to be that you needed an excuse to vote by mail. You had to apply for what’s called an “absentee ballot.”  But in this presidential election year, things are different.  Act 77, signed into law last fall, allows any registered voter in Pennsylvania to choose to vote by mail-in ballot instead of going to the polls on election day.

 

courtesy of Kyle Haust

People from many walks of life have lost employment due to COVID-19. This is particularly true of performers and artists who piece together a living from events that have now been cancelled due to the pandemic. WPSU’s Kristine Allen recently spoke with a central Pennsylvania musician who has seen most of his income dry up.

 TRANSCRIPT:

KYLE HAUST: My name is Kyle Haust, I’m from State College, and I’m 33 years old. And for a living, I play percussion. 

 

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. 

Pages