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Person involved in Penn State Harrisburg coronavirus case lives off campus, is self-isolating

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In a statement Monday, Penn State Harrisburg said the individual who was diagnosed with the coronavirus “lives and has self-isolated off campus in accordance with Pennsylvania Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.”

The campus was notified that a person became sick during the week of March 16, and was later diagnosed with COVID-19. The initial press release said that “the risk is low.”

It is not clear if the person with the virus is a student, a member of the faculty, or an employee, and where they are located at this point. Penn State Harrisburg representatives have not provided details.

"The Pennsylvania Department of Health has protocols for testing, announcing and advising cases — including contact tracing — along with individuals’ health care professionals. It is up to public health authorities to determine what information is shared publicly in the interest of public health and in accordance with relevant privacy requirements," the university said in a press release Saturday.

Chancellor John Mason issued this statement to the Press & Journal on Monday:

At Penn State Harrisburg, we are doing everything we can to continue to fulfill our academic mission, while protecting the health, safety and well-being of our faculty, staff and students, and our local community.

We have successfully moved to all online learning and have numerous examples of the innovative ways that our faculty members are delivering their coursework and staying connected with their students. All of our employees who can work remotely are doing so. And, we are continuing to care for our students, also in new and innovative ways through our use of technology. We are working within all local, state, and federal guidelines to promote social distancing while continuing to teach and learn, and to keep the college operating as smoothly as possible during this unprecedented situation.

I commend our college community for the extraordinary commitment and resilience they have shown during this time. I am grateful for their efforts as everyone is managing many different personal and professional responsibilities."

Riley Cagle, a senior and president of the Penn State Harrisburg Student Government Association, told the Press & Journal on Sunday the possibility exists that it could be a student who is not on campus right now who tested positive somewhere else, whether that be domestically or internationally, and they reported it to the university.

“We have no idea. I trust that all students and staff and faculty that are not here who test positive for it will report it to the university so the university can help them,” he said.

Penn State Harrisburg implemented numerous changes over the past few weeks in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, according to the university.

Penn State University extended through the end of the spring semester delivering all class instruction remotely using the Internet, because of ongoing concerns related to the “growing coronavirus pandemic,” the university announced March 18.

Penn State announced March 16 that it is planning pro-rated reimbursements for housing and meal plans “in some form,” to address the financial impact on students of the university’s decision to shut down Harrisburg and all of the university’s other campuses due to the coronavirus.

Penn State Harrisburg students can contact campus health services and speak with Andrea Mull at 717-948-6015 with questions. Students experiencing symptoms or health-related concerns such as symptoms to an upper respiratory infection or flu-like illness also have access to the University’s Advice Nurse line at 814-863-4463.