The state Department of Health says college student COVID-19 cases will be counted where they’re living

Written by on July 2, 2020

The state Department of Health says college student COVID-19 cases will be counted where they’re living

By Anne Danahy, WPSU

July 2, 2020

In this file photo before the coronavirus hit, a “Now Hiring” signs hangs at the Corner Room, which stands at the intersection where town and gown meet in State College. The mayor of State College says it’s unclear how rules like mask-wearing and social distancing can be enforced when students cross College Avenue from the Penn State campus into downtown State College. Photo | Min Zian, WPSU

Penn State is preparing for the return of students to its campuses this fall, and that includes being ready to track cases of COVID-19. As WPSU’s Anne Danahy reports, the state Department of Health says student cases will be counted where they’re living.

In keeping with federal Centers for Disease Control guidelines, college students in Pennsylvania will be counted where they’re actually living and plan to live for most of the year — not their permanent home addresses.

That will help towns like State College, where Penn State’s main campus is, know if COVID-19 cases are climbing.

A State Department of Health spokesman confirmed a college student living on campus or in an apartment in town would be counted in that school’s county.

In addition to that, a Penn State spokesman said the university is “committed to sharing overall numbers on a campus-by-campus basis,” with guidance from federal privacy health law.

Matt Ferrari, an associate professor of biology, is co-chair of one of the Penn State task forces focused on COVID-19.

“We want everyone on our campuses and across the community to be well informed about what’s happening in the campuses and what’s happening in the communities surrounding them.”

Ferrari said an informed community will play an important role in slowing the pandemic.

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