Forest County

The gym at SCI Huntingdon has been converted to an infirmary that houses inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

As a COVID-19 outbreak at a state prison in Forest County continues, the sparsely populated county in northwestern Pennsylvania now has the highest rate of coronavirus cases in the state by far. 

As of Thursday, there were 1,245 known cases in Forest County. That’s about 17% of the county’s entire population.

 

It’s also more than double the number in the county just a week before.

The gym at SCI Huntingdon has been converted to an infirmary that houses inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

Until now, Forest County in northwestern Pennsylvania had seen relatively few cases of COVID-19, but that changed when cases at a state prison spiked.

The daily COVID-19 count from the state showed cases in Forest County increasing by 33% — jumping from 430 to 571 on Wednesday.

Even though the vote count is not complete yet, at least nine northern and central Pennsylvania counties have already recorded more votes than they cast in the 2016 presidential election.
Carolyn Donaldson / WPSU

As election offices continue to count votes in Pennsylvania, at least nine northern and central counties have already recorded more votes than they cast in the 2016 presidential election.

Even though the vote count is not complete yet, counties including Blair, Clearfield, Clinton, Cameron, Elk, Forest, Huntingdon, Mifflin and Lycoming have already counted more votes this time than in the 2016 presidential election. 

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.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced Friday that 24 counties in northwest and north-central parts of the state will be the first to reopen in a limited capacity starting May 8.
Office of the Governor

Updated 3:40 p.m. Friday

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced Friday that 24 counties in northwest and northcentral parts of the state will be the first to reopen in a limited capacity starting May 8.

Those counties are Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, and Warren.

An employee at Collins Hardwood in Kane, Pennsylvania, sorts and marks the wood.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Bo Hammond is hardwood sales manager for Collins Hardwood, a company based in Oregon with locations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and California. Hammond is giving me a tour of the company’s operations in Kane. It’s located in McKean County off Hardwood Drive.

“This is the main entrance to the plant," he said. "We actually have a company house on the far backside that one of the owners lived in for years and raised his family here in northwest Pennsylvania.”

Attendants watch the showcase of a live video conference during an open house event at the Northern Pennsylvania Regional College in Warren, Pa.
Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Kathy Wells started her career early. She didn’t get a chance to go to college after graduating high school in rural, Northwestern Pennsylvania.

In her words, she grew up in a “large family, small area.

“Basically, you work,” Wells laughed. “You don’t go to school.”

Now 48, Wells is an administrative assistant for the Forest Area School District in Forest County — one of the most remote and scarcely populated areas in the state.