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Penn State Reports Nearly 300 New COVID-19 Cases in Past Week, No Plans to Move to Remote Instruction Yet

by on September 11, 2020 1:37 PM

Penn State on Friday reported 272 additional COVID-19 cases among the University Park community since its last update on Tuesday, and President Eric Barron said the university has no plans as of yet to move to fully remote instruction.

"At this time, we do not need to change our current modality and hybrid on-campus approach,” said Barron said in a statement. “The University is monitoring the number of positive and negative cases — and other variables critical to our decision making — including isolation and quarantine capacity, hospitalizations, locational data, transmission from student cases to employees and community prevalence, to name a few."

Friday's updates to Penn State's COVID-19 dashboard showed 25 additional positives from tests that had previously been pending for the week of Aug. 28-Sept. 3, bringing that week's total to 362.

For the week of Sept. 4-10, there were 247 new positives reported on Friday. Combined with 42 reported on Tuesday, the week's total cases are 289. Another 1,483 results are still pending.

The past seven days included 260 student positives out of on-demand 1,571 completed on-demand tests. The dashboard shows 417 on-demand tests still awaiting results.

Random screening yielded 28 positives from 1,764 completed tests. Another 1,066 are pending results.

The university also began random employee screening this week, with one positive case out of 58 completed tests. Another 71 are awaiting results.

Since Aug. 14, Penn State's University Park campus has had 688 positive cases, all but one students.

According to the dashboard, 132 students are in on-campus isolation and 77 are in on-campus quarantine. Other affected students identified through testing or contact tracing are isolating or quarantining at home or in single-occupancy off-campus residence, according to the university.

“At this time, the isolation and quarantine space at University Park is at about 50% capacity,” said Kelly Wolgast, director of Penn State's COVID-19 Operations Control Center. “As students complete their isolation period and those quarantining receive negative results, they leave the isolation and quarantine space. Prior to Aug. 30, 97 individuals have recovered and are moving out of the space on campus, and more students are expected to be released in the coming days. In addition, the University has the capacity to open more isolation and quarantine space, if needed.”

Since Sept. 1, Centre County has added 571 new COVID-19 cases, 85 more than the months of March through August combined. The vast majority of new cases have been in the State College and University Park zip codes.

Over the past seven days, the county has had the highest incidence rate of COVID-19 cases in that state over the past seven days, with 255 per 100,000 population, according to the Department of Health's early-warning monitoring dashboard. It also had a positivity rate of 9.2%, the fourth highest in the state.

“The University is in close communication with local and regional public health authorities, officials at Mount Nittany Health System, Penn State Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Health,” said Dr. Kevin Black, interim dean of the College of Medicine. “Our contact tracing process is another source of data being used to take preventive action and halt the spread of what otherwise could go undetected in our community. Mitigating viral spread even before individuals may know they have been infected is exactly why we put asymptomatic, symptomatic and on-demand testing processes into place.” 

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