Coronavirus

Pennsylvania Confirms Virus Resurges; No Plans For Lockdown

Oct 15, 2020
CDC

Pennsylvania is “at the start of the fall resurgence” of COVID-19, the state’s health secretary said Wednesday, but does not plan to reimpose a stay-at-home order or shut down businesses again in response.

Wednesday marked the ninth consecutive day that Pennsylvania’s daily case count surpassed 1,000, and the average daily number of new confirmed cases is up by more than 50% over the past two weeks, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

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.

 

 

Penn State President Eric Barron hosted a virtual seminar on Thursday for faculty and staff to ask questions about the university's approach to the coronavirus pandemic. The university is looking into new health protocols for the spring.  

CDC

Pennsylvania is reporting its highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections in more than five months. The Department of Health said Thursday that another 1,376 people tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. It was the second consecutive day that new infections rose above 1,300. Thursday's statewide case count was the highest since April 30, when Pennsylvania recorded 1,397 new infections. Health officials cite increased spread among college and university students.

A mobile COVID-19 test site on Penn State University Park campus.
Min Xian / WPSU

The number of Penn State students at University Park who have tested positive for COVID-19 has increased by 458 — a 28% jump — since the numbers were updated Tuesday, according to the latest data from the university.

Kelly Holder is the Director of the Office of Professional Mental Health at the Penn State College of Medicine and Hershey Medical Center. She talked about mental health challenges and what people can do to to keep their minds active and positive during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

TRANSCRIPT:

Penn State student Kaitlyn Harris did an asymptomatic saliva test at a mobile testing site in August. The university said Tuesday there are 433 total COVID-19 cases university-wide.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

 

Penn State is reporting a 294-case increase of COVID-19 among students at University Park since it last updated its coronavirus dashboard on Friday.

 

It brings the total number of cases to 1,665 students at University Park. The dashboard lists 23 cases among students at Penn State Altoona, with 17 still active. There are 33 students in quarantine at that campus.

 

Wolf Vetoes School Sports Bill; Override Attempt Planned

Sep 21, 2020
Matt Rourke / Associated Press

Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed a bill that would give school districts the sole ability to make decisions on sports, including whether and how many spectators to allow. Lawmakers are planning to vote to try to override Wolf's veto. Legislation that cleared the House and Senate would have empower schools to make their own rules about the number of spectators permitted at games. Wolf says his gathering limits of no more than 25 people indoors and 250 people outdoors should apply to youth sports to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

 

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.

Barry Reeger / Associated Press

Leaders of the Big Ten universities voted unanimously to have a football season this fall, starting the weekend of Oct. 23, according to a news release Wednesday morning.

The College Township municipal building
College Township

The wrestling tournament that College Township in Centre County had tried to stop, saying it would violate COVID-19 restrictions, did take place this weekend, drawing an estimated 2,700 people and leading the township and police to issue citations.

According to a news release from the township, the municipality worked with the State College Police, the borough Health Department and Centre Region Code Administration. They issued more than 30 citations totaling about $10,000 over the course of the three-day event to the organizers and hosts.

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.

 

Outside of the newly renovated Spring Creek Elementary School.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU

Calling it an “extremely disappointing turn of events,” the State College Area School District announced Friday it will move all of its schools to remote learning next week, an announcement that came the same day Penn State’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 174 more cases in the past week. 

In a letter to parents and guardians, Superintendent Bob O’Donnell said recent positives mean the district reached the state Department of Health’s “substantial level” of COVID-19 transmission and the recommendation at that point is “full remote learning.”

A mobile COVID-19 test site on Penn State University Park campus.
Min Xian / WPSU

The number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase sharply in Centre County, particularly at Penn State and in the neighboring State College area.

There are 578 confirmed and probable cases in Centre County, up from 538 Wednesday, according to the state Department of Health. Thursday’s 40-case increase is second only to the 47-case spike Wednesday, the largest seen in the county since the pandemic began. 

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

The State College Area school board voted 5 to 4 Wednesday night to close schools and take a day off this Friday, giving the district time to review new COVID-19 data.

 

The meeting came the same day Centre County saw its largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases, leading to concerns about whether the growing number of cases in Penn State students will spread to the community at large.

Signage for a COVID-19 collection site in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / WPSU

Centre County COVID-19 cases increased by 47 Wednesday, its largest single-day spike since the pandemic began, according to state Department of Health data.

The county has 538 cases — 491 confirmed and 47 probable — up from a total of 491 Tuesday. The jump comes as the State College Area School District has been grappling with if and when to move to remote learning — even temporarily.

The county’s numbers by zip code include:

Carrie Jackson and Dawn Maguire, with the Holmes Foster Neighborhood Association, standing in front of a house.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

 

Penn State classes start this week, and as the campus with the largest student body in Pennsylvania kicks off the fall semester, many in State College are concerned that the arrival of tens of thousands of students could mean outbreaks of COVID-19.

 

"Keep Your Distance" sign with lion's paw print
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State had to break up a large gathering of unmasked students apparently partying outside of dorms on the University Park campus Wednesday night, raising concerns in the community about the potential for COVID-19 outbreaks.

The get-togethers, documented on social media, defy the university’s rules requiring everyone to wear masks while in public spaces on campus and not to gather in groups. And, they came before classes start on Monday.

In-Person Farm Show Cancelled Due To COVID-19 Worries

Aug 19, 2020
Matt Rourke / Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania's agriculture secretary says there won't be an in-person Farm Show in January because of the pandemic. Secretary Russell Redding made the announcement Wednesday through an online news conference. The Farm Show, scheduled for Jan. 9 through Jan. 15 will be held virtually instead, with a theme of “cultivating tomorrow.” The event bills itself as the country’s largest agricultural exposition under a single roof, drawing hundreds of thousands of people to Harrisburg to see about 6,000 animals and take in some 10,000 competitive exhibits.

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

The State College Area School board voted 7 to 2 Monday night against a motion to switch entirely to online learning after two weeks in anticipation of an upswing in COVID-19 cases after the return of Penn State students and in-person classes.

 

The vote followed more than five hours of discussion and public comments during an online meeting attended by more than 700 people.

Signage for a COVID-19 collection site in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / WPSU

The State College Area School District is scheduled to return to school next week, and that’s also when Penn State classes start, raising concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19.

As questions are raised about how much cases will go up and how quickly test results are coming back, the State College Area school board will vote Monday night on whether to change its plans for in-school classes, moving entirely to remote learning after two weeks of in-person classes, at least while data about the rate of COVID-19 in the community is collected.

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

School districts across Pennsylvania are finalizing plans for reopening classrooms and teaching students remotely as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with State College Area School District Superintendent Bob O’Donnell and school board President Amber Concepcion about how that district is preparing for the fall.

TRANSCRIPT

Doctoral student Steph Herbstritt shows the hairy ligule in switchgrass that's growing on Penn State research plot in Centre County.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

 

When COVID-19 hit Pennsylvania in March, universities moved to shut down in-person classes and suspend some lab work work and field research. For environmental scientists, that’s meant changes and delays in how work gets done.

Penn State's Beaver Stadium
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Pointing to health concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding them, the Big Ten announced Tuesday afternoon that it is postponing fall 2020 sports, including football.

“Our primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty and staff,” said Morton Schapiro, chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University president.

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

The presidents of the Big Ten universities are expected to vote Monday night to cancel the 2020 football season as concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic continue, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press.

Citing unnamed sources, the story says a formal announcement is expected Tuesday.

Penn State Athletics Director Sandy Barbour in a face mask at the beginning of an online press conference Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Penn State Athletics is planning for the football team to play in an empty stadium this fall, but the department does have a seating plan for about 23,000 people if the state changes the rules limiting crowd sizes.

Even with those plans, Athletic Director Sandy Barbour left open the possibility that the football team won’t play at all. 

“The virus will determine whether we play or not,” Barbour said Thursday during a press conference.

"Keep Your Distance" sign with lion's paw print
Min Xian / WPSU

 

A newly formed group called the Coalition for a Just University at Penn State hosted an online rally Wednesday, questioning the university’s plans for an in-person fall semester in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group wants the university to provide COVID-19 testing to all faculty, students and staff, publicly say staff can work remotely and give faculty control over whether they teach in-person. They're also calling for a guarantee that all full-time faculty and staff will keep their jobs and benefits in 2020-21.

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.

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. 

  

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 state removed 24 COVID-19 cases from Centre County’s count Thursday, reflecting corrections made to previous test results the Department of Health said were “not valid.”

Centre County saw its largest single-day jump in COVID-19 cases, increasing by 43 to 356 on Sunday. The sharp increase prompted Mount Nittany Health to contact the state Department of Health, which led to retesting.

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