COVID-19

Gov. Tom Wolf speaks at a press conference in Harrisburg about the arrival of coronavirus in Pennsylvania on Friday, March 6, 2020. At rear is state Health Secretary Rachel Levine.
Commonwealth Media Services

Gov. Tom Wolf says the north-central and northwestern regions of Pennsylvania are being targeted as the first areas that could see coronavirus restrictions eased.

Wolf made the announcement during a news conference Wednesday evening. He said the state will follow red, yellow and green phases as it lifts restrictions on business operations, with significant easing of restrictions coming no sooner than May 8.

“Ultimately, the virus is going to set the timeline, not us,” Wolf said.

 

The Rivet Manufactures PPE For State College Community

Apr 22, 2020
Camille Sogin, manager of The Rivet, shows off one of the face shields that the makerspace is manufacturing.
Camille Sogin / The Rivet

State College’s The Rivet is a makerspace dedicated to sharing knowledge and manufacturing equipment like laser cutters and 3D printers. But it has found a new purpose since COVID-19 started its spread. 

Staff are now producing protective gear including face masks, face shields and even some respirator and ventilator parts for healthcare and other essential workers in the local community. This personal protective gear, or PPE, has been in short supply since the pandemic began. 

Rivet manager Camille Sogin is leading the effort. 

view of empty Penn State mall
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State is preparing online learning options as it faces the possibility of students from other countries not being able to return to the United States in the fall because of travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“What we’re uncertain of at this time is whether that experience will be fully residential or whether we have to have a remote learning component as we did this spring and as we’re planning for the summer,” said Roger Brindley, vice provost for Global Programs at the university.

 

TRANSCRIPT:

You’re listening to WPSU’s Health Minute, a collaboration with Penn State’s College of Nursing.

It’s important to take care of your mental health and manage stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Symptoms of stress include fear, worry, changes in appetite or sleep, worsening of chronic health conditions, or increased use of alcohol or other substances. 

A health care worker stands near a rally organized by opponents of Gov. Tom Wolf's strict coronavirus mitigation efforts.
Joseph Darius Jaafari / PA Post

Armed with nothing but signs and science, half a dozen medical workers from across the state showed up near the capitol in Harrisburg on Monday to counter the message of hundreds of “ReOpen PA” protesters calling for an end to coronavirus restrictions.

The small group of health care workers told people participating in the larger rally to go home to keep their loved ones safe. But they made their point from a distance.

Penn State classrooms are left empty as the university switched to remote learning due to COVID-19 concerns.
Min Xian / WPSU

Coronavirus concerns meant a shift to online learning for Penn State students. It was an abrupt end to the school year and, for some of them, to their college experience. 

“This really just blindsided all of us,” said Luke Lacher. 

Lacher is a senior broadcast journalism student at Penn State. Like millions of graduating college seniors around the country, COVID-19 cut off his last semester at school and the life he had known for the last three and a half years. 

A map from the state Department of Health shows how many COVID-19 cases have been counted in each county.
PA Department of Health

An inmate at the Centre County Correctional Facility has tested positive for COVID-19, and a small number of staff and inmates who may have had contact with the inmate are in quarantine, according to a news release from the county Sunday.

The inmate is a Centre County resident who has been in the jail since January. He or she is being housed in a negative airflow room in the facility, and additional testing and contact tracing are being conducted, according to the release.

This is the first case of someone incarcerated at the county facility testing positive for COVID-19.

Courtesy Jodi F. Solomon Speakers Bureau

Robert Bullard has spent four decades shining a light on issues of environmental racism and fighting for environmental justice. He talks with WPSU's Cheraine Stanford about how the coronavirus pandemic is highlighting existing social inequalities and why he thinks climate and environmental justice are essential issues for the upcoming election. 

TRANSCRIPT: Cheraine Stanford:

Emily Reddy / WPSU

For the first time in its 54-year history, the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College won’t take place this year.

“This is the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make in my years in the workforce,” said Rick Bryant, executive director of the festival, which was slated to take place July 7-11. “We are trying to keep the health and safety of our artists, performers and audience members foremost in mind. We don’t want State College and the Centre region to become known as the petri dish.”

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

 

Penn State will continue holding classes online, not in-person, this summer. The university pointed to the need to protect the health of students and employees as COVID-19 continues to spread.

Penn State is leaving open the possibility of returning to on-campus classes in its second summer session. The university says that decision will be based on guidance from government and health authorities.

The move to online learning applies to all of the university’s campuses.  

 

TRANSCRIPT:

You’re listening to WPSU’s Health Minute, a collaboration with Penn State’s College of Nursing.

The past few weeks have been challenging as we continue to take precautions to slow and prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Here are some tips to help you stay connected to your family, friends, and community:

Gov. Tom Wolf extended the stay-at-home order to the entire state on April 1, 2020.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is one seven states in the northeast that announced Monday they'll be working together to come up with a plan to reopen their economies once the spread of COVID-19 is under control.

The announcement came during a joint telephone conference, led by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. President Trump tweeted earlier in the day that it is up to him, not the governors, when to reopen the states.

But, when asked about that, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf referred to how state closures have been happening.

What goes into the meal kits the State College Area School District is preparing for families even when school is out.
Megan Schaper / SCASD

As part of Pennsylvania’s efforts to slow down COVID-19, the state’s K-12 schools are closed for the rest of the year. Some school districts, including the State College Area, have stepped in to help families make sure children are still getting enough to eat. WPSU’s Anne Danahy spoke with the district’s food service director, Megan Schaper, about the need, and how she and her staff are meeting it by packing hundreds of meals.  

More information on the State College Area School District program is available on the district's website.

NIrmal Joshi, chief medical officer of Mount Nittany Health
Mount Nittany Health

Nirmal Joshi has been the chief medical officer at Mount Nittany Health since November 2017. He has a background in infectious diseases, and has been helping lead Mount Nittany’s efforts to prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

State officials, like Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, left, want people to social distance while outside.
PA DCNR

Officials in charge of Pennsylvania’s natural resources are encouraging outdoor recreation during the coronavirus shutdown, but they want people to enjoy nature close to home.

Brian Toth is superintendent of the Saint Marys Area School District, at desk.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

  

UPDATE: Gov. Tom Wolf announced today (April 9) that all K-12 schools will be closed for the rest of the school year as part of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Since Gov. Tom Wolf ordered Pennsylvania’s K through 12 schools to remain closed indefinitely to help slow the spread of COVID-19, school districts, teachers and parents have been trying to make the most of what’s left of the school year.

Dean Lindsey on day 19 of his recovery from COVID-19.
Dean Lindsey

A couple of weeks ago, we talked with State College resident Dean Lindsey, who said he was one of the first people in Centre County to have a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Lindsey is the senior pastor at State College Presbyterian Church.

WPSU checked in with him again to see how he’s doing now. 

Emily Reddy: Dean Lindsey, thanks for talking with us again.

Dean Lindsey: Well, it's, it's good to be here and to be able to talk.

Pa. Schools Ordered To Remain Closed Until End Of Academic Year

Apr 9, 2020
Outside of the newly renovated Spring Creek Elementary School.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU

Pennsylvania schools will remain shuttered for the rest of the academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic that has sickened thousands and caused hundreds of deaths statewide, under an order signed Thursday by the state’s education secretary.

The extended shutdown order affects more than 1.7 million students in public and private K-12 schools. It means children will spend the rest of the year learning remotely.
 

The order applies through the last day of the current academic year, a date that varies among districts because calendars are set by school boards.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman sitting in the WPSU radio studio
Min Xian / WPSU

State Senator Jake Corman fielded questions on COVID-19 during a telephone town hall Wednesday, pushing back on parts of Gov. Tom Wolf’s response to the pandemic.

Wolf signed an order Wednesday allowing the state to transfer personal protective equipment and other medical supplies from one health care provider to another that needs them.

 

“This will allow us to move key equipment, like personal protective equipment and ventilators to high population, high impact areas," Wolf said.

 

Many business owners who have applied for federal and state loans are still waiting for help to arrive.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Pennsylvania State Police are enforcing Gov. Tom Wolf’s orders for Pennsylvanians to stay at home and for non-life sustaining businesses to close their physical locations as part of the effort to slow down the coronavirus.

A map from the Pennsylvania Department of Health showing COVID-19 cases by county as of April 7, 2020.
Pa Department of Health

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 jumped by 11 in Centre County to a total of 55 and Elk and Jefferson County reported their first cases meaning every county in the state now has at least one confirmed case, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. 

With Tuesday’s DOH updates, the total number of confirmed cases in Pennsylvania is 14,559. That’s an increase of 1,462 from Monday. 

The report also marked the largest single day’s deaths, with 78 more reported since Monday.

TRANSCRIPT:

You’re listening to WPSU’s Health Minute, a collaboration with Penn State’s College of Nursing.

COVID-19 requires all of us to take precautions through “social distancing.” Social distancing means staying physically separated from other people by at least 6 feet or 2 meters.

While it's still acceptable to exercise outdoors, it's important to find outdoor spaces that aren't crowded with other people. It's also important to avoid large gatherings and to avoid traveling by public transit.

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

A patient with COVID-19 is being cared for at Mount Nittany Medical Center in Centre County, the first at the hospital, according to a news release.

The patient tested positive Wednesday evening. No other details were provided about the situation except that the patient is receiving care. 

In a news release, Chief Medical Officer Nirmal Joshi said the center has "been preparing for months for this situation."

Suboxone is one of the medicines used as part of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Under new federal guidance to reduce in-person treatment and slow the spread of COVID-19, eligible patients can have up to 28 days of medication.
AP photo

With COVID-19 continuing to spread, there are new treatment protocols for people with substance use disorder. While the state’s providers have been managing the necessary changes, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith said the coronavirus outbreak and substance use disorder are two public health crises that feed each other.

All Of Pennsylvania Now Under Orders To Stay Home

Apr 1, 2020
Gov. Tom Wolf extended the stay-at-home order to the entire state on April 1, 2020.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Gov. Tom Wolf has placed all of Pennsylvania under an order to stay at home, dramatically expanding the geographic footprint of the quarantine as state officials combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Wolf added 34 counties to his stay-home edict. That means residents of all 67 of Pennsylvania’s counties must now stay home as much as possible to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The State College borough hung banners about the census before Penn State switched to remote learning for the rest of the spring semester.
Min Xian / WPSU

April 1 is Census Day. That means it’s usually where you live on April 1 that you give as your address when you fill out the census

But coronavirus means Penn State students who would usually be in State College are spread far and wide. Penn State and the U.S. Census are trying to get word out that students should still be counted at their school address.  

TRANSCRIPT:

You’re listening to WPSU’s Health Minute, a collaboration with Penn State’s College of Nursing.

As Covid-19 continues to spread, what are you doing  to boost your immune system? 

The National Sleep Foundation explains that when we don’t get enough sleep, our immune system is weakened and we become more susceptible to infections. Chronic sleep loss does further damage by increasing our risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. 

TRANSCRIPT:

You’re listening to WPSU’s Health Minute, a collaboration with Penn State’s College of Nursing.

Handwashing continues to be an important way to prevent the spread of coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses.

The steps for effective handwashing include: 

Wet your hands with warm or cold water, turn water off, and apply soap to your hands.

Lather the soap by rubbing your hands together to include the front and back of hands and fingers.

Scrub hands and fingers for at least 20 seconds.

Map of PA counties with stay-at-home orders as of March 28, 2020 to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Gov. Tom Wolf extended Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order to include Centre County on Saturday as the number of cases in the county and state continues to rise. Wolf didn’t give specific reasons why Centre County was added, but the order is part of efforts to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

The Department of Health announced the number of confirmed cases in Centre County is now at 15. The expansion of this order brings the total number of counties up to 22 and also includes Beaver and Washington Counties. 

 

Hotel State College laid off its entire staff as it shut down all of its bars, restaurants and a small hotel due to the coronavirus.
Min Xian / WPSU

On the Friday morning after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered all businesses that are not considered “life-sustaining” to close their physical locations, Todd Colocino received the news that he was laid off. 

The certified welding inspector for a civil engineering firm in State College has been laid off before during the Great Recession. But this time he feels less certain.

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