Centre outbreak still churning

A week ago, Centre County became the first local county to break 1,000 for COVID-19 cases, and by Friday, it had surged to 1,630 — averaging 81 cases a day in an ongoing outbreak propelled by student infections at Penn State in University Park, according to the state Department of Health and the university.

Centre’s case number is three times higher than Blair’s 548, the next highest local tally, yet Centre’s death total has stayed at 11 since mid-August, even as Blair’s has risen by 7 to 15 — a phenomenon that likely reflects the youth of the Centre County students.

Thirteen of the Blair deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities, according to the DoH.

Since Aug. 7, 1,371 of the University Park students have tested positive, with 715 cases still active and an additional 895 awaiting results, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Only 1 employee has tested positive, although 77 are awaiting test results, according to the dashboard.

The DoH has been “working closely” with Centre County because of the outbreak and plans to launch a test clinic there Sept. 25, according to a department news release Friday.

AMI Expeditionary Healthcare will do the testing, according to the department.

The department is also establishing a test clinic in Columbia County, although Columbia has only seen an increase of 173 cases since the beginning of September, compared to Centre’s 1,109, according to the department.

Centre County has reported 78 more cases over the past week than in the previous week; it has an incidence rate for the past week — positive cases per 100,000 residents — of 322; and a 12.1 percent test positivity rate, according to the department’s Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard, which is updated every Friday.

A positivity rate of 5 percent is cause for concern, department officials have said.

Pennsylvania’s incidence rate is 43.1 and its positivity rate 3.8 percent, while Blair County’s incidence rate is 27.8 and its positivity rate 1.6 percent.

Yet Centre’s percentage of emergency room visits with COVID-like symptoms over the past week is only 1.3 percent and its average daily number of COVID-19 hospitalizations is down slightly for the week.

Bedford’s incidence rate is 43.6 and its positivity rate is 5.3 percent; Cambria’s incidence rate is 12.9 and its positivity rate 1.1 percent; Clearfield’s incidence rate is 31.5 and its positivity rate 3.1 percent and Huntingdon’s incidence rate is 6.6 and its positivity rate 0.4 percent.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.


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