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Governor Tom Wolf, Penn State Football Encourage Vaccinations During Happy Valley Visit

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf visited Penn State Wednesday to host a press conference alongside President Eric Barron, football coach James Franklin, and tight end Theo Johnson. Their message? Get your vaccine.

Up in Pegula Ice Arena’s club level with Beaver Stadium plastered behind, the group urged every Pennsylvanian age 16 and up — especially Penn State students — to get their shots to help the state return to much-needed normalcy.

“Right now, I know this is something that is maybe not at the top of minds with finals coming up, moving back home, finding summer jobs. But now that college students are eligible to get vaccinated, it’s really important to make this a priority,” Wolf said. “When you get vaccinated, you are, of course, protecting yourself. But when you get vaccinated, you’re also protecting those around you.”

Barron echoed that same sentiment and said the afternoon press conference’s location inside Pegula wasn’t a coincidence by any stretch. The arena houses half of Penn State’s walk-up COVID-19 testing efforts and briefly served as a vaccine clinic, too, just a few weeks ago.

“This is a place where we do what needs to be done,” Barron said. “Whether it means beating Michigan in hockey or getting vaccinated for the good of ourselves, our families, and our friends, this is a place where we come together for leadership, commitment, and community. That’s what’s called for today, and the stakes are high.”

Franklin kept things rolling by noting he received both vaccines alongside his wife. Personally, the head coach said he got his shots to keep his family safe, noting his daughter with sickle cell anemia is at high risk for infection but isn’t old enough to get her vaccine just yet.

“I encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. The more people who are vaccinated, the better chance we have to get back to 107,000 strong here in Beaver Stadium,” Franklin said. “Last season wasn’t the same without the support of our amazing fans at home and on the road.”

Franklin said the Nittany Lions’ home opener against Ball State on September 11 will serve as Penn State’s first “family reunion” in almost two years. He hopes Beaver Stadium and all of Happy Valley will be “rocking” like usual that weekend.

“In order to be able to have 107,000 of our closest friends cheering us on this season, we ask everyone that is able to get vaccinated,” said Johnson, who’s received his first dose and is looking forward to the second.

Additionally, Franklin said vaccinations could help Penn State pack the stands this fall, which should give local establishments a boost in business that they’ve missed out on for the last year or so.

“This is not just about Penn State football. This is about the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Franklin said. “We know how important it is for our community and our fans to have college football and professional teams in all sports return to full capacity.”

Heading into the summer, it’s clear Penn State fans are itching to return to arenas, especially considering restrictions on gatherings will be lifted over Memorial Day Weekend. But before returning Beaver Stadium to #107kStrong, Wolf said state residents need to take individual action.

“To make it safer for all of us to come together again, we really need more Pennsylvanians to get the vaccine so each and every one of us can be part of the solution,” Wolf said.

Right on campus, Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center hosts a COVID-19 vaccine clinic open to all Pennsylvania residents, regardless of county of residence. It’s open from Thursday through Monday, offers a choice between the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and even welcomes walk-ins.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

By day, Matt is a senior majoring in journalism. By night, he's Onward State's managing editor. He's a huge Philadelphia sports fan, fantasy football lover, and washed-up drummer hailing from Collegeville, Pa. The quickest way to his heart is Margherita pizza and "Arrested Development" quotes. Follow him on Twitter @mattdisanto_ if you hate yourself or email Matt at [email protected] if you hate him.

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