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COVID-19 In Pennsylvania: Health, Education Departments Urge Colleges To Start Semesters Online

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

HARRISBURG (KDKA) - The Wolf administration is urging colleges to delay bringing students back to campus and instead start the spring semester online.

The departments of health and education, citing modeling projecting the virus' spread won't peak until January and February, asked institutions of higher education to use online learning "to the maximum extent feasible" and consider delaying the return to campus.

"Our current infection of COVID-19 is placing a significant strain on our hospital capacity and is a reminder to us all of our role in protecting our health care system. Our hospitalizations are more than double what they were in the spring and more than one-third of all ICU beds in the state are being used by COVID-19 patients," Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said in a release.

"We know COVID-19 does not discriminate and is affecting every county in the commonwealth. This virus knows no bounds and it is affecting all Pennsylvanians, no matter your race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, or whether you live in a rural, suburban, or urban area."

The departments are echoing a warning from Gov. Tom Wolf earlier this month, where he painted a bleak picture of hospitals and healthcare systems overwhelmed, ICU beds full up and the public being turned away for necessary treatments.

"Colleges and universities play a critical role in mitigating​ the spread of COVID-19 and creating safe learning environments for students. By delaying students' return to campus, our institutions of higher learning can help slow the spread of the virus, help businesses to remain open, and protect regional health care systems," Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega said in a release.

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