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Penn State Reports 196 More COVID-19 Cases Among University Park Students

by on October 13, 2020 6:35 PM

Penn State on Tuesday reported 196 additional COVID-19 cases among students attending University Park.

The new positives reported in the university's semi-weekly COVID-19 dashboard update bring the the campus community's total to 3,362 since Aug. 7, including seven employee casesHowever, only 405 of those are still considered active, with 2,957 having completed isolation and no longer considered active cases.

From testing conducted between Friday and Sunday, there were 46 new cases. Those included 45 positives from 421 completed on-demand tests and one positive from 816 completed random screening tests. A total of 328 tests were still awaiting results.

For the week of Oct. 2-8, 148 additional student positives — 138 from on-demand tests and 10 from random screening — were reported from tests that had still been pending at the time of the last update on Friday. For that week there was a total of 436 positives — 416 from 3,227 completed on-demand tests and 19 from 3,146 completed random screening tests.

The remaining two positives in Tuesday's update were from tests the week of Sept. 25-Oct. 1, which had a total of 490 cases. Those included 465 from 2,808 on-demand tests 25 from 3,356 random screening tests.

No new employee cases were reported on Tuesday.

According to the updated dashboard, 117 students are currently in on-campus isolation and 63 are in on-campus quarantine. University Park has 250 rooms available for isolation, 150 for quarantine and another 140 available if needed. Students may also isolate and quarantine at home or if they have suitable space off-campus residence, according to the university.

Many of the newly reported university cases have likely already appeared in the Pennsylvania Department of Health's daily COVID-19 reporting for Centre County. Penn State updates its dashboard only twice a week, and the health department does not distinguish student testing results in publicly available data, so it's unclear when exactly cases have been added to the DOH totals.

“We are seeing our positive test results decline from their peak in mid-September, however, this virus is easily transmitted and, as we have seen elsewhere, progress can be reversed quickly,” Kelly Wolgast, director of Penn State's COVID-19 Operations Control Center, said in a release. “We ask all in our community to continue to be diligent about following public health guidance and responsive to the University’s calls to participate in surveillance testing.”

Largely as a result of Penn State student cases, Centre County has had the highest COVID-19 incidence rate in Pennsylvania for five consecutive weeks. As the university has seen a modest downward trend in cases, however, the county's incidence and positivity rates have also declined, though still remain high.

For the week of Oct. 2-8 — the most recent reported in the Department of Health's early-warning monitoring dashboard — the county had an incidence rate of 278.9 cases per 100,000 people, down from 291.1 the previous week and 322.5 three weeks ago. The next closest county is Union at 207.7.

For the fifth consecutive week, Centre County has the highest incidence rate in the state, though the number continues to decline, according to DOH's updated early-warning monitoring dashboard. For the week of Oct. 2-8, the county had an incidence rate of 278.9 cases per 100,000 people, down from 291.1 the previous week and 325.5 the week before that. The next closest county is Union at 207.7.

For the first time in a month, Centre County does not have the highest positivity rate in the state over the past seven days. The county's positivity rate for the week was 7.4%, third-highest in the state and down from 9.4% the prior week, according to DOH.

Mount Nittany Medical Center has seen an uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 12 or 13 each day since Friday. That is up from an average daily census of six to eight for the previous two weeks. The medical center activated the first step of its "surge capacity plan," adjustments to its normal operations when it experiences a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

As of Friday, COVID-19 inpatients at Mount Nittany ranged in age from 33 to 96.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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