The local impact of the pandemic

With no end in sight of the coronavirus pandemic, the lives of many continue to drastically change. Effects of the pandemic can be felt not only nationwide, but also at a local level. As cases continue to rise in Centre County, hospitals are overcrowding, unemployment rates are rising, and many people are finding difficulty in affording food for themselves and their families. But what exactly does all of this mean, and what can we do to help our community?

Most of us are aware about the overcrowding occurring in the hospitals, but what does it look like here? On December 11, the Daily Collegian reported that Mount Nittany Medical Center, located in State College, hit a record number of coronavirus inpatients with a total of 75 cases. As a result, many minor surgeries for others have had to be rescheduled. While the healthcare professionals are trying to help those who are not coronavirus patients, there are more limitations due to the growing number of cases. Healthcare workers are urging people within the community to follow guidelines so they can continue to help the current patients with positive cases while also providing care to others who are admitted due to other health related issues, and hopefully reducing the number of cases.  

With issues arising from positive covid individuals, community members are constantly being affected, even if they have not fallen ill with the virus. According to WJAC News, Centre County Commissioner Mark Higgins said that 403 local businesses were qualified to receive grants from the government so they could sustain the pandemic due to the lack of business and major cutbacks. This is one of the highest numbers the county has seen, as Centre County has traditionally had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state for decades prior to the pandemic, according to WJAC. 

Many small businesses have had to adapt and figure out new ways to receive the same income as previous years. This is what the restaurant Big Springs Spirits, located by Talleyrand Park in Bellefonte, has done by creating hand sanitizer at the beginning of the pandemic. One major challenge regarding many Centre County businesses has been the Penn State football games without spectators. Many restaurants relied on the football games to bring in customers, but without these customers they have had to reduce their operating hours and even reduce the amount of employees. The pandemic has brought major complications to businesses across Centre County with no definite end in sight. 

With cases and unemployment increasing, many people are also left wondering where their next meals will come from. There are various food pantries and other similar organizations throughout the county, but as the numbers of those in need of extra help have increased this season, it has become difficult for many places to supply enough food. The State College Food Bank distributed food to nearly 700 households in the area for their November 17 pre-Thanksgiving event, according to State, and the group stresses the importance of donation of any kind from members of the community to keep their system going. You can find more information about Centre County’s food pantries on the  Centre County website. 

So what can you do to help as an individual? Firstly, stay home as much as possible, and follow the restrictions and cautions necessary to keep yourself and others safe. Support local businesses and nonprofits such as the Centre County food banks when you can, in whatever ways you can. Another easy way to help the community is by educating others. Be sure people are aware of the local impacts of the pandemic, so they can do their part of following the guidelines to hopefully reduce the amount of cases in our area. If everyone takes responsibility and contributes, we can become a safer and closer community.