The number of cases of COVID-19 in Centre County shot up by 184 Wednesday, in a spike that overshadows all previous increases and will likely raise questions in the community about whether Penn State can contain the spread among students.
According to the state Department of Health, there are 870 known cases of the COVID-19 in Centre County Wednesday, up from 686 Tuesday. That’s more than a 25% increase in one day. The previous largest single-day increase in Centre County was 47 cases.
The county cases include:
386 confirmed and 19 probable cases in the 16801 State College zip code, which neighbors Penn State. That’s up from 249 confirmed cases and 19 probables on Tuesday.
97 confirmed cases in the 16802 zip code, Penn State’s University Park campus. That’s up from 62.
Centre County has had the second highest incidence rate in the state per 100,000 residents in the past seven days.
The dramatic one-day increase comes as Gov. Tom Wolf changed the rules for bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
Pennsylvania's bars and restaurants will be able to seat patrons indoors at up to 50% of their capacity, up from 25% since July.
Once the new rule kicks in, establishments will have to certify their capacity limit, read and follow all of the state's COVID prevention protocols, and stop selling alcohol at 10 p.m.
Wolf’s health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, said Tuesday the rules are meant to prevent patrons, especially college students, mixing in bars.
“We don’t want people to congregate while they’re drinking,” Levine said.
Young people make up a growing number of the new COVID-19 cases. In Pennsylvania’s northcentral region, which includes Centre County, nearly 66% of cases so far in September are among 19 to 24-year-olds. That’s up from about 7% in April.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.