COVID-19

Front view of Bradford Regional Medical Center in the city of Bradford in McKean County, Pennsylvania
Emily Reddy / WPSU

 

Kathy Masisak, 68, doesn’t want to live in a community without robust medical care. But her local hospital in rural McKean County has been downsizing for years, and she said it’s affecting her family.

“They took a maternity ward away last year, and my granddaughter had to go to Olean — which is 35, 40 minutes away — in an emergency situation to deliver that baby,” Masisak said. “I was panicking the whole time going over there to see her.” 

Head shots of State College mayoral candidates Ezra Nanes and Jim Leous
Photos provided

Two Democrats — and no Republicans — are on the ballot in this year’s primary race for State College mayor. Ezra Nanes is director of business development at AccuWeather. He previously ran for state Senate and tried for a seat on the State College Borough Council, and he's a member of the Centre County Democratic Committee. Jim Leous leads the emerging technologies group for Penn State's Information Technology Services. He’s also a member of the State College Area school board and adviser to the Penn State College Democrats.

A Bradford Regional Medical Center sign that directs visitors to different departments
Emily Reddy / WPSU

McKean County is hosting a mass vaccination clinic Friday, after the county saw a brief period of providers getting no first dose vaccines from the state.

Bradford Regional Medical Center is hosting the clinic at the Old Central Christian High School building and will use an emergency allotment of 1,170 doses for those who register ahead of time.

president.psu.edu

Shortly after Governor Tom Wolf announced the new outline for vaccine distribution in Pennsylvania, Penn State President Eric Barron addressed pre-submitted questions from faculty and staff about how the university will deal with COVID-19 moving forward. In a livestream, Barron urged employees to get vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible. Those who work with students can sign up starting on Monday.

Kelly Wolgast is the director of Penn State’s COVID-19 operations control center. She says, for now, Penn Staters will have to look outside the university for a vaccine.

While some members of the Penn State community are wary of the university's return to in-person classes, some believe vaccines may make transition safer.
Jade Campos / WPSU

  

As more and more of the country gets vaccinated against coronavirus, many Penn Staters are feeling hopeful about the upcoming in-person school year. Others point to the current upswing in COVID cases and say it’s too soon.

Gov. Tom Wolf looks at a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site setup for teachers and school staff at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa., Monday, March 15, 2021.
Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration says every adult in Pennsylvania will qualify for COVID-19 vaccines starting April 19.

Starting immediately, vaccine appointments are being expanded to include police, corrections officers and other law enforcement; volunteer and professional firefighters; grocery employees; and food and farm workers.

Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said Wednesday the new timeline is possible because the state’s rate of vaccinations has quickened.

Linda Mantz / courtesy of the artist

We asked WPSU listeners to share their experience of the past pandemic year. For today’s story, WPSU’s Kristine Allen spoke with a Milesburg resident who teaches yoga for addiction recovery. She talks about the effect of the pandemic on the recovery community.

“I’m in what I would call long-term recovery now,” Linda Mantz said. “But I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict.”

Mantz of is retired from Penn State, where she taught Human Development and worked as a counselor.

“I am grateful to be celebrating over 30 years of recovery this year,” she said.

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

 

In a livestream Friday, leaders at Penn State and from the surrounding community voiced concerns about the recent uptick in coronavirus cases and a new, more infectious variant found in State College.

State College Mayor Ron Filippelli said police have been responding to more gatherings recently and he sees a relaxation of precautions across the board.

Jim Welsh / courtesy of Jim Welsh

We asked WPSU listeners to share their experience of this past year for our series, Pandemic, Year One. For today’s story, WPSU’s Kristine Allen spoke with a bicycle mechanic from State College who was lost his job due to COVID-19, then started his own business.

“I’ve always had a way with bicycles and a love for mechanical things. You know, take them apart, figure out how they work, that kind of thing.”

Jim Welsh of State College said he’s been working as a bicycle mechanic since he was about 14 years old.  He enjoys riding, too, around local trials.

Mary Petrak (selfie) / courtesy of Mary Petrak

We asked WPSU listeners to share their experience of this past year for our series, Pandemic, Year One.  For today’s story, WPSU’s Kristine Allen spoke with a retired teacher from Hollidaysburg.  She lost her husband just before the pandemic began.

“He was just a guy with a big smile that lit up the room,” Mary Petrak said. “He was really good at listening to people’s stories.  Also a good storyteller.”

Petrak’s husband, Dave, died five months before the pandemic started.  They had been married for 43 years.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, one out of every 12 residents in Centre County has tested positive for COVID-19.
Pennsylvania Department of Health / Pennsylvania Department of Health

Saturday marked one year since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Centre County. 

Nearly 14,000 Centre County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. That’s about one out of every 12 residents.

courtesy of Katy Stager

In recent weeks, we’ve asked WPSU listeners to share their experience of this past pandemic year. WPSU’s Kristine Allen brings us their stories.  This is the first installment of our series, “Pandemic: Year One.”  Today she talks with a mother of four who has been trying to keep her family safe while dealing with social isolation and trying to stay positive.

“When we were looking back, we kind of referred to that week, our last vacation, as the week the world stopped.”

WPSU’s Health Minute is a collaboration with Penn State’s College of Nursing.

It’s important to keep your routine medical and dental appointments during the pandemic.

Routine appointments are an important part of preventative health care. They ensure you’re up-to-date with vaccines and medication management.

There are steps you can take to keep yourself safe during appointments. Ask if there’s an option to meet with your provider virtually via telemedicine as an alternative to an in-person visit.

University Park Airport located in Centre County
Addison Albert

Governor Tom Wolf has lifted the coronavirus ban on traveling between states. Officials at the University Park Airport in State College hope this change will boost business at the hard-hit airport. 

Bryan Rodgers is the director of the University Park Airport. He says business was down by 70% this January from last January, and it was like that throughout 2020. 

The government kept airports and airlines afloat with CARES Act funding. The University Park Airport received $2.3 million in the COVID relief aid.

Saturday kicked off the first day of the four day COVID-19 vaccination clinic hosted by the Central Intermediate Unit 10.
Jade Campos / WPSU

  

Teachers, nurses, principals and other school staff from Centre, Clearfield and Clinton counties began arriving at Mount Nittany Middle School at 8 a.m. Saturday for a special COVID-19 vaccine clinic. Employees received Johnson & Johnson single-dose shots that Governor Tom Wolf earmarked exclusively for K-12 school employees and childcare workers.

The State College Area School District Operations Director Randy Brown said hundreds have scheduled appointments during the four-day clinic.

A a technician sitting above a manhole next to a red cone installs a flow meter into the university's sewage network.
Michael Shreve / Penn State

A team of Penn State researchers is using wastewater testing to track the rise and fall of the COVID-19 virus in the State College area. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with Andrew Read, director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, about the project. Here's their conversation. 

Anne Danahy 

Andrew Read, thank you for talking with us.

Andrew Read 

Sure.

Anne Danahy 

The State College Police Department reported a total of four COVID-19 ordinance violations over State Patty's Day weekend. Violators of the ordinance can receive a fine up to $300.
Jade Campos / WPSU

State College’s annual partying holiday, State Patty’s Day, took place this past weekend. Crime rates surrounding the event have dipped in recent years. That trend continued this year despite the creation of new COVID-19 citations.

This State Patty’s weekend saw the lowest crime statistics in the past 11 years.

State College and Penn State police focused enforcement on dorms and apartments close to campus. The borough encouraged rental owners to keep an eye out for large gatherings throughout the weekend as well.

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

State Patty’s Day always leads to increased partying and drinking in State College. The pandemic makes concerns higher over gatherings in State College. 

State College Mayor Ronald Filippelli said bars will see few changes since there are already COVID-19 restrictions in place.

Filippelli believes apartments and rental houses will pose the greatest threat this weekend with a chance for large gatherings.

WPSU’s Health Minute is a collaboration with Penn State’s College of Nursing.  

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic underscores the challenges of communicating factual health information. As our understanding of the virus evolves, so does the guidance for keeping ourselves COVID-free.

Health-related messages are most successful when they include a call to action based on people’s beliefs about a health threat, when people perceive the action to reduce the threat as effective, and when people feel they can carry out that action.

Every year, the Governor of Pennsylvania and the General Assembly have to agree on budget. But this year, lawmakers are also tackling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Added to that are hot button issues including the outcome of the presidential election and legislative redistricting. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with two elected leaders from Centre County: Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff.

TRANSCRIPT

A male voter at a voting booth with a "Vote" sign
Alex Brandon / AP

 

The U.S. Census Bureau said Friday that it will get redistricting data to the states by the end of September, not the end of March as originally planned, a hold up that Pennsylvania Republican leaders say could lead to a delay in next year’s primary.

 

“When you’re making decisions in life, it’s always good to have information as early as you can," said Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, who is one of the Republicans who will serve on the state’s redistricting commission.

 

WPSU’s Health Minute is a collaboration with Penn State’s College of Nursing.

Many people are working or attending school from home during the pandemic. Sitting for extended periods of time in spaces that aren’t designed for office work can lead to pain in the neck, shoulders, and back.

WPSU’s Health Minute is a collaboration with Penn State’s College of Nursing.

The COVID-19 pandemic is entering its second year of impacting all our lives. It's perfectly normal to feel fatigued by the extended disruption to normal life activities.

Pandemic fatigue can be helped by establishing daily routines to support your health. This includes regular outdoor exercise such as visiting a local park for a walk, hike, or run; getting a good night's sleep; and balancing work and personal time.

File photo of a mobile COVID-19 test site on Penn State University Park campus.
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State students will return to in-person classes next Monday, as the country is bracing for a faster-spreading COVID-19 variant to become dominant.

 

The B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus -- also known as the U.K. variant -- has already been detected in more than 30 states, including Pennsylvania. The Centers for Disease Control expects it to become the dominant variant in March.

 

A vaccinator administered a shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to a patient during a mass vaccination clinic held by Centre Volunteers in Medicine on Saturday, Feb. 6.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

Centre Volunteers in Medicine hosted one of Centre County’s first COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics Saturday, vaccinating about 1,200 people at Mount Nittany Middle School.

Pamela Moeng was one of them. Moeng works at Park Forest Middle School and said she tried to sign up for vaccination appointments with multiple providers before she was finally scheduled by CVIM. 

Penn State senior and pre-med student Avinash Saraiya, unpacks his suitcase as he moves into his new apartment in downtown State College.
Michael Miller

Worsening COVID-19 conditions at the end of last year led Penn State to move all spring semester classes online until Feb. 15. The university also discouraged all students – living both on and off campus – from returning to State College until then. But many students have already returned to Centre County. 

Avinash Saraiya is a pre-med student at Penn State. He moved in to his off-campus apartment in mid-January. He said being in Centre County makes him feel connected to the university even during the pandemic.

A COVID-19 vaccination site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021.
Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Centre Volunteers in Medicine will host one of Centre County’s first COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics on Saturday. The organization plans to vaccinate 1,200 people during the event at Mount Nittany Middle School.

All appointments have been filled for CVIM’s Super Saturday COVID vaccine clinic, which will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CVIM Director of Development Monica Wright said over 6,000 people tried to register for the event, but only 1,200 vaccines are available.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks with the press in Harrisburg.
Office of Gov. Tom Wolf

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is proposing a major overhaul of public school finance, aimed at addressing resource inequities, that would be backed by a significant increase to Pennsylvania’s personal income tax.

Wolf formally presented the $37.8 billion plan at a remote version of his annual budget address Wednesday, saying it is an effort to answer three questions: “What do people need to be able to build a brighter future here in Pennsylvania? What are the barriers that get in their way? And what can we do to help remove those barriers?”

WPSU’s Health Minute is a collaboration with Penn State’s College of Nursing.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, in cooperation with local health care systems, has started distributing the much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine.

Experts believe the vaccine may help keep people from getting seriously ill, even if they get COVID-19.

Getting vaccinated may also help protect those around you, especially those who may be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. 

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