The Borough of State College continues to work collaboratively with Centre Region communities, Penn State University, Centre County Government and other community leaders to limit the local impact of COVID-19 and to provide essential services to our community.
As we deal with this public emergency we are continuously balancing the most important health and well-being issues for our general public and our employees with the economic and business concerns in our community and our commitment to providing local government services to ensure the public health, safety and welfare.
Today I want to take a few moments to provide some additional updates from the community on what has taken place this past week. I want to remind you of the governor’s plan to reopen the state. As mentioned in the plan our region will begin this process May 8. The reopening will happen in three phases and the Department of Health will utilize a data model developed by Carnegie Mellon University and will indicate when to move to the next phase.
You may have noticed that construction projects are beginning locally and I want to assure the public that we are sending information about how to conduct these projects and ensure the contractors are implementing practices that follow federal state and local guidance on limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Matthew Ferrari, a Penn State professor of biology in the Eberly College of Science and a researcher with the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Penn State, and his collaborator Meg Small will be conducting an online study for all of Centre County. The Data for Action Study will combine virus and antibody testing with surveys of the impact of the pandemic on both the resident community and returning students when that occurs.
The initial survey will gather information on demographics, interaction with the Penn State campus and interaction with Penn State students to assess the potential COVID-19 risks associated with the return of students in large numbers. It is extremely important for residents of the Centre Region to complete this survey. I can’t stress that enough. It is extremely important.
And this survey is just the first step. Further studies will follow and the project will provide an evidence base for decision-making and risk assessment for both the Penn State and Centre County communities. The borough will be sharing information with the public on how to complete this survey as soon as possible.
The Borough of State College has been working the past few weeks with an advocacy group made up of members from peer college towns, the National League of Cities, International Town Gown Association and the International City County Management Association to ask members of Congress for assistance in getting an accurate count in the 2020 Census and providing additional economic assistance to these university-based communities.
We need the public’s help in these advocacy efforts. I’m asking you to go to nlc.quorum.us/campaign/25995 and send a personalized letter to our local Congress members to help make them aware of the issues we are facing locally.
The Office of Community Engagement and the Planning Office have been working closely with Out of the Cold, Housing Transitions, Centre Helps, Centre County United Way and the COVID Community Needs Response Group to see what services are available to those in need. If you and your family are in need, please call or text Centre Helps at 800-494-2500.
I want to continue to emphasize that community members should continue to take everyday precautions like staying home except for life-sustaining activities, washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, wearing masks outside of your home and practicing social distancing. You play the most important role in limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted our local Census operations and our ability to get a complete count. The Census has suspended all door-to-door enumeration activities. I want to remind everyone that you still need to complete the Census and you can do so via mail, phone or online. This impacts the appropriation of billions of dollars of federal funding and it also affects redistricting. By taking the Census now you help us out for the next decade. If you have any questions about the census, please contact us at [email protected].