COVID-19

First Penn State Student Dies From COVID-19

Jul 2, 2020
Penn State's Old Main administrative building.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

A Penn State student has died from respiratory failure due to COVID-19.

Penn State said in a press release that it learned of the Tuesday death of 21-year-old Juan Garcia, a student in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, through friends and family. He is the first known Penn State student to die from coronavirus.

Penn State Athletics Director Sandy Barbour taking off a face mask at the beginning of an online press conference Wednesday, July 1, 2020.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Penn State Athletics Director Sandy Barbour said during a news conference Wednesday that no student athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 so far out of 102 tested.

Barbour said Athletics will report its results publicly every two weeks. She said that will happen at least until students return for the fall semester, and then will be reevaluated.

The university has said it will make its overall testing results data public.

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.

The number of cases of COVID-19 in Centre County has gone up by 11, a tie with April 7 for the largest jump the county has seen in one day.

According to the latest numbers from the state Department of Health, there are 181 confirmed cases and 14 probable cases in Centre County, for a total of 195.

Penn State president Eric Barron
Ralph Wilson / AP Photo

Penn State plans to convert the Nittany Lion Inn into an isolation residence for students who have or have been exposed to COVID-19, and football fans should not expect to fill a crowded stadium in the fall even if fall sports resume.

Those were some of the topics Penn State President Eric Barron covered during a virtual town hall meeting for faculty and staff Monday.

The Nittany Lion Inn conversion will mean 79 layoffs. But, he said, most employees who the university had previously furloughed will be brought back in August.

 

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.

 

Old Main, the administration building, on Penn State's University Park campus
Min Xian / WPSU

 

As Penn State gets ready to return to on-campus classes this fall, many faculty don’t think in-person teaching will be safe and are calling on the university for more information about how its plans will work.

 

Old Main, the administration building, on Penn State's University Park campus
Min Xian / WPSU

 

For Penn State, it’s back to school in person this fall.

 

In an email sent to Penn State students and employees Sunday, the university said that it plans to return to on-campus classes. The email from President Eric Barron emphasized the priority the univeristy puts on health and safety. It comes at a time when experts warn of the chance of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, possibly in the fall.

Courtesy Brandon Ogbunu

Brandon Ogbunu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University. He uses experimental evolution, mathematical modeling, and computational biology to better understand diseases. He is interested in the interactions of epidemics, evolution, and society.

He talked with WPSU's Cheraine Stanford about his latest novel coronavirus research and the interactions between race, social justice, and COVID-19.

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%.

Participants in "Justice for Black Lives" march Sunday, June 7, 2020, in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / WPSU

When Penn State announced the phased return of athletes, the university said students are required to practice safety measures, including wearing face masks in public, observing social distancing and avoiding large groups.

 

Penn State began bringing athletes back to campus Monday, starting with 75 football players. Some players were among the participants in a “Justice for Black Lives” rally held Sunday in State College.

 

Nancy and Sam McKinney
Nancy McKinney

Sam McKinney, from Kane, died from COVID-19 on May 5th. He’s the only person from McKean County so far to die from the virus. His wife, Nancy, also got sick.

WPSU’s Emily Reddy talked with Adam Bundy, Nancy’s son and Sam McKinney’s step-son.  

TRANSCRIPT 

 

Emily Reddy: 

Thank you for talking with us, and I’m so sorry for your loss.  

 

Adam Bundy:  

Thank you. 

 

State College Area students driving in a red car, participated in the Senior Parade on May 27, 2020.
Min Xian / WPSU

  

In March, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered Pennsylvania’s K through 12 schools closed to help stop the spread of COVID-19. That meant high school students had to adjust to a new “normal” of learning remotely. 

For Ronit Patel, a senior at State College Area High School who is also a musician, that has meant turning to music.

“To let out all my frustrations about quarantine and stuff, I just sing. I belt my heart out and sing," Patel said. "And, I feel like it’s really helped me stay kind of positive in this horrible, horrible time.” 

This graphic from Gov. Tom Wolf outlines the phases of reopening.
Gov. Tom Wolf

Eighteen Pennsylvania counties moved Friday into the green phase of Governor Tom Wolf’s reopening plan. Those counties include Centre, Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Forest and McKean.

In the green phase, Wolf says personal care services such as hair salons and barber shops can reopen with appointments. Appointments are encouraged for gyms and spas. 

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

Governor Tom Wolf said on Friday that he will remove most coronavirus restrictions on 17 mostly western and north-central counties on May 29. The counties moving to the “green” phase are Bradford, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Montour, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango and Warren.

 

Wolf said he’d planned to move Centre County to green, but local officials told him they didn’t feel the county was ready yet. 

 

Ernie Chamberlain

 WPSU asked you, our listeners, to tell us how you were getting along during the pandemic lockdown. Here are some of the ways you’ve been getting through it.

Evie Madison of Altoona is pastor of Wehnwood United Methodist Church in Altoona. She was busy becoming tech savvy early on in the pandemic.  She learned to record and edit video so she could bring Sunday services to her shut in congregation.

A Pennsylvania Department of Health graphic urges people to "Know the Symptoms of COVID-19," which can be spread through close contact.
PA Department of Health

 

It’s a warm spring night in State College, and Penn State students are gathering in yards and on porches. There’s music. There’s beer pong. But, social distancing and face masks? Not so much.

 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Penn State moved its summer classes online, and most students aren’t in town. That doesn’t mean student socilializing has disappeared.

 

State College police say they’re focused on educating partiers about the coronavirus safety guidelines.

 

Gov. Tom Wolf in a file photo
Photo: AP

Some Pennsylvania counties may find out Friday that the state is moving them from “yellow” to “green” status of COVID-19 reopening, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said during a call with reporters Thursday.

“I’ll be announcing a whole range of counties tomorrow moving from red to yellow, and the hope is that we’ll also be making some counties that might even be moving from yellow to green tomorrow,” Wolf said.

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.

 

The Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver County is the site of one of the state's worst outbreaks.
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and PennLive/Patriot-News. 

HARRISBURG — Amid a growing death toll and mounting pressure from lawmakers and advocates, Pennsylvania officials on Tuesday released a long sought-after list of long-term care facilities where the coronavirus has infected or killed residents.

A Penn State parking sign in a "Red" lot on campus explains parking restrictions.
Penn State Transportation Services

  

While most Penn State employees are currently working from home, they're going to continue to pay for their on-campus parking permits, the university announced.

The university will keep deducting parking fees from the paychecks of faculty and staff who are receiving their full salaries. Employees pay $37 a month for a typical parking permit at University Park.

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)

Workers install solar panels on the roof of a house
Business Wire

Green energy businesses had been seeing growth, but the COVID-19 pandemic has changed that.

“We’re all doing the best we can in the new normal here,” said Kevin Gombotz, vice president of Envinity, a green design and construction company.

Screen shot of the Zoom home page
Anne Danahy

After getting hit by Zoom bombings ranging from disruptive to disturbing, Penn State is tightening the security defaults on the platform.

 

“There’s whole groups of people going around, and they’re literally searching for Zoom links so they can come in later and bomb them. There’s whole chatrooms dedicated to bombing Zoom meetings, believe it or not," said Richard Sparrow, acting chief information security officer at Penn State.

 

JESSICA GRIFFIN / PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and PennLive/Patriot-News. Sign up for our free weekly newsletter.

HARRISBURG — The Wolf administration on Tuesday unveiled a plan to begin universal testing of staff and residents in the state’s hundreds of long-term care facilities, which have become the epicenter of coronavirus-related deaths in Pennsylvania.

empty HUB-Robeson Center with one person walking
Min Xian / WPSU

 

Penn State has seen a drop in the number of international and in-state students applying.

 

“Admissions for summer and fall 2020 are, of course, a critical part of our budgeting and our success,” said university President Eric Barron on Friday.

 

He was speaking about the impact of COVID-19 on admissions during a university trustees meeting.

 

Stacey Sharp is a manager at Appalachian Outdoors in downtown State College. The store reopened May 8, 2020 with COVID-19 protection measures, but also continues to provide curbside pickup as an option.
Min Xian / WPSU

Governor Tom Wolf has announced the easing of restrictions on another 13 counties.

 

They include Blair and Cambria. Beaver County was the only western county not moved out of a “red” status. It’s home to what may be the state’s worst nursing home outbreak.

 

The announcement came the day that 24 counties in northcentral and northwestern Pennsylvania moved to “yellow” status.

 

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