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Op-Ed: How State College Is Responding to Coronavirus Pandemic and the Challenges We Face

by on March 23, 2020 12:05 AM


Fellow citizens,  

We are writing to you to inform you of the measures being taken by the Borough of State College to deal with the many challenges of the COVID-19 virus, and to reassure all community members that all Borough vital services will continue through the crisis.  

The streets will be cleaned, the water continues to flow, the police are on duty, the trash will be picked up, and any emergency facing a citizen of the Borough will be handled quickly, professionally, and humanely.  Please call on us with any questions or concerns. Most of the detailed information that you need is posted on the Borough website:  There will be daily updates to keep you well informed. Please make it a habit to consult the website frequently.  You can trust the information you will find there. Don’t listen to rumors and false information that is, sadly, often one of the negative byproducts of a crisis.

We also want to express our sympathy with the employees, employers, tenants, banks and landlords of State College, especially as these groups interact in the crisis facing our small business community. Clearly, in normal times the interests of these different groups in our city do not always coincide. But this time is different. Now we must pull together as one community.  

We already see many examples of cooperation and goodwill in the face of what is a health, economic and social crisis. Our many human services nonprofits are already mobilized and in action.  

However, there is a limit to what we can do with local resources. For example, the HUD limit on evictions is not general, and only affects a small percentage of renters — only 8 million units —  of the roughly 43 million households who rented in 2019. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered that residents cannot be evicted from homes or businesses before April 3. However, we do not know whether this order will be extended beyond April 3 nor do we know whether this crisis will end by that date.  There is not as yet any relief for mortgage holders facing foreclosure, nor for property owners whose ability to pay bank loans and maintain properties depends on the revenue they receive from tenants. 

As we write, the United States Senate is grappling with a massive relief bill. Let’s hope they deal with these issues in a way that keeps people, and especially the most vulnerable, first, but not forget critical aid to keep workers working and small businesses solvent. You can help by contacting your federal and state elected officials. But in the absence of federal or state aid, or even with it, we will have to face the crisis as a community. This means sacrifices by all of us, whether that be work sharing, rent and mortgage grace periods, more charitable giving by those able, or whatever it takes. Let’s do our part.

Another critical need for community support is care for our elderly or handicapped neighbors who are isolated in their homes with limited ability to shop for food, fulfill doctor’s appointments, clear snow or ice from their properties, and perhaps most importantly, have contact with neighbors and friends through phone calls or emails. State College is fortunate to have great neighborhood associations that maintain list-serves and call lists. We call on them to please organize to meet these special needs. The Borough is working to put together a means to help.

Finally, wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing, and stay inside!

Warm regards,

Ronald Filippelli, Mayor, Borough of State College

Jesse Barlow, President, State College Borough Council

Ronald Filippelli is mayor of State College. Jesse Barlow is State College Borough Council president.
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