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Penn State Reviewing Campus Events Including Blue-White Game Amid Coronavirus Concerns

by on March 09, 2020 2:43 PM

No cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported to date at Penn State or in Centre County, but with presumptive cases of COVID-19 now in Pennsylvania, the university is evaluating scheduled large events to determine if and how they should proceed.

According to a news release on Monday, a university action group "is reviewing everything from academic symposia to student-led conferences to the annual Blue-White Game," the Nittany Lion football team's spring game scheduled for April 18. 

To date, no university events have been canceled because of coronavirus concerns. Following Centers for Disease Control recommendations, the action group — which is comprised of senior leaders from the university administration and Intercollegiate Athletics and faculty experts — is currently allowing event organizers to determine how to proceed, though that can change as circumstances related to the global coronavirus outbreak develop.

"All decisions will be made with the health and well-being of our community and event guests as the priority," a university statement said.

Though still more than a month away, the Blue-White Game is the largest single event remaining on Penn State's spring calendar. Last year the game drew 61,000 fans and has had crowds as big as 76,500.

Teams and units are being advised to monitor university and CDC guidance, have contingency plans in place, establish a firm date well in advance of the event for deciding whether it will proceed and identifying needed actions if an event is canceled or postponed.

For events that do proceed, organizers have been told to be sure they provide sinks with soaps, hand sanitizer, tissues and disposable face masks, as well as identifying a space to isolate staff or attendees who become ill.

Participants also should be notified in advance not to come if they are sick, cover their coughs and sneezes with tissue, wash their hands often and avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths.

Penn State announced last week that it has established 12 action teams focused on critical areas to mitigate any potential impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has reported seven presumed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, in the commonwealth as of Monday afternoon. Samples from each of those cases tested positive at the state lab in Exton but are still awaiting confirmation by the CDC.

Five of the presumptive cases are in Montgomery County, one in Delaware County and one in Wayne County. The most recent case was reported on Monday and is an individual from Montgomery County who is in critical condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The six other cases have experienced mild symptoms and are in home quarantine. 

Penn State previously canceled study abroad trips, instructed students studying in Italy to return home, banned university-related travel to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran, and required students and employees returning from those countries to quarantine at home for 14 days before going back to campus.

As of Monday, there have been 113,000 confirmed cases and nearly 4,000 deaths from COVID-19 worldwide, the majority in China, were the virus originated in late 2019. In the United States there have been 600 cases and 22 deaths.

More than 62,000 people have contracted and recovered from COVID-19. The elderly and individuals with underlying health problems or suppressed immune systems are most susceptible to the most severe effects of the disease. 

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