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State College’s COVID-19 Outbreak Ranked America’s Seventh-Worst

Update, 10 a.m., March 28: Following an update to the New York Times‘ data infographics, State College is now experiencing the seventh-worst metropolitan COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

Limited to areas with at least 50,000 people. Recent cases are those announced in the last two weeks, but in some cases may have taken place earlier because of delays in reporting.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has not updated its COVID-19 case figures with Sunday’s numbers just yet. However, 70 added cases to the Times‘ dashboard moved State College up two spots from No. 9.

Original Story: Once again facing rising COVID-19 case numbers, State College is currently experiencing the ninth-worst metropolitan virus outbreak in the country, according to the New York Times.

The Times‘ data infographics, updated at about 3 p.m. Saturday, found the borough’s 922 cases over the last two weeks particularly alarming. Each metropolitan area, all of which represent at least 50,000 people, is ranked corresponding to its relative population.

Limited to areas with at least 50,000 people. Recent cases are those announced in the last two weeks, but in some cases may have taken place earlier because of delays in reporting.

This is far from the first time State College has cracked a New York Times COVID-19 infographic. The borough was once ranked the second-fastest-growing hot spot in the country way back in mid-September.

In fitting fashion, Centre County and Pennsylvania both reported their highest COVID-19 case increases since late January on Saturday. The county added 181 new COVID-19 cases, while Pennsylvania reported 7,132 new positives.

To date, Centre County has reported 14,406 COVID-19 cases and 213 deaths, but one of the latter hasn’t been reported in three weeks. Meanwhile, 24,986 Pennsylvanians have died due to COVID-19.

Hospitalizations remain relatively low compared to last fall’s figures. However, Mount Nittany Health, which was treating 22 COVID-19 inpatients aged between 18 and 88 years old on Friday, is now reporting its highest hospitalizations in more than six weeks.

“COVID-19 is a serious disease with an unpredictable course and should not be taken lightly,” Dr. Christopher Hester, chief clinical officer of primary care services for Mount Nittany Health, said on Friday. “We do not want to get to the point again where we need to limit services because of the number of hospitalized covid patients. We would all like to get back to normal, but this pandemic is not over.”

Although not in the borough itself, Penn State has recently observed an uptick in COVID-19 cases, too. The university reported 317 new positives among University Park students and employees over the last week, bringing its semesterly total to 1,772 cases.

Additionally, due to feared clusters, Penn State had asked residents of eight dorms, and students living at Beaver Hill, to get tested for COVID-19. The university took that a step further by advising all East Halls residents to get tested for COVID-19 through a now-closed pop-up clinic on Saturday.

The university said it sends out advisories once local positivity rates in a given dorm or complex reach 2%.

Borough and university leaders, including State College Mayor Ron Filippelli and Penn State President Eric Barron, held an online debriefing Friday to address surging COVID-19 case numbers and newly discovered variants, including the highly contagious B.1.1.7 strain. Every official agreed that mask-wearing and social distancing must continue to combat the growing outbreak.

“The nicer weather, combined with the anticipated mass vaccinations on the horizon, are prompting many to forgo health precautions like masking and physical distancing,” Barron said. “It’s not time to stop wearing a mask and practicing other safety measures.”

We’ll update this post with more information as it becomes available.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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