Centre County

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 November 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. 

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. 

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