Penn State Detects Omicron COVID-19 Variant On Campus

Penn State’s Testing and Surveillance Center (TASC) has found its first detection of COVID-19’s omicron variant on campus, the university said on Monday.

Penn State said university officials are monitoring the omicron variant’s spread ahead of the spring semester. By December 30, we should know whether or not Penn State will begin classes remotely due to worsening pandemic conditions.

 ”Penn State plans to begin the semester in person as planned, however with local COVID-19 hospitalizations at an all-time high, and the uneven spread of the omicron variant creating uncertainty, Penn State officials are reminding the University Park campus community, out of an abundance of caution, to be prepared to alter plans, should the University need to start the spring semester remotely,” Penn State said in a statement last week.

Mount Nittany Medical Center, the only hospital in Centre County, has observed its highest influx of COVID-19 inpatients since the pandemic began. On December 14, it recorded a record-high 76 COVID-19 inpatients. Rates have since fallen, topping out at 55 inpatients on Monday.

The fast-moving omicron variant has dominated headlines recently, but its exact effect on Penn State is unclear. The university ironically won’t update its COVID-19 Dashboard with new data until the spring semester starts, preventing any updates on case numbers for most of December. Regardless, the dashboard never provided information on COVID-19 variant prevalence.

About 89.8% of students and 90% of employees at University Park are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Penn State’s COVID-19 Dashboard. The university doesn’t currently provide information on booster shot coverage.

Earlier this month, Penn State extended its indoor mask-wearing mandate through the spring semester. The requirement applies to all, regardless of vaccination status.

Visit Penn State’s dedicated website to learn more about the university’s latest COVID-19 policies.

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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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