Within the last two weeks, Penn State has seen a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases. While the number of cases for the second semester started out significantly better than the first semester, as everyone was required to be tested before their return to campus and within the first two weeks of their return, Centre County and Pennsylvania have both reported their highest COVID-19 case increase since late January last Saturday.
Last week, the University reported 138 new positive cases among University Park students and employees bringing its semester total to 2,057 cases. In addition, Penn State asked residents of eight different East Hall dorms and students living off-campus at Beaver Hill Apartments to get tested for COVID-19 through a pop-up clinic that was set up last Saturday.
Currently, there are 225 students in the isolation dorms on campus.
According to the New York Times’ State College is experiencing the seventh-worst metropolitan COVID-19 outbreak in the Country. Back in mid-September, the Times’ ranked State College the second-fastest-growing hot spot in the country.
Last fall, the University reported having a total of 5,052 positive cases of COVID-19.
While hospitalizations remain relatively low compared to last fall, Mount Nittany Health is reporting its highest number of hospitalizations in the last six weeks.
Penn State made an effort to adjust its spring 2021 COVID-19 strategy after cases skyrocketing upon return last fall. This semester, the University increased the use of walk-up testing among students and implemented additional rapid testing at various locations around the University Park campus.
As student health and safety is the University’s top priority, they are urging everyone to follow the University’s health guidelines that have been put into place since last fall: wearing a mask at all times in campus buildings and when you cannot be physically distanced from others outdoors, practicing social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and complying with all testing and contact tracing requests.
While Penn State is planning for a phased return to in-person learning over the summer semester and is hoping to be back to being a full on-campus and in-person learning environment for fall 2021, the University is preparing for a variety of scenarios if circumstances change or if the government and public health authorities require a reassessment of their plan prior to the start of summer and fall classes.
For more information on Penn State’s COVID-19 strategy and to access the COVID-19 dashboard, visit https://virusinfo.psu.edu/covid-19-dashboard/ .