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Allentown schools close as Temple U. shifts to online class, amid concerns over the coronavirus

This weekend's 37th annual St. Patrick's Day parade in York has been canceled.

  • Marc Levy/The Associated Press
FILE: A flag hangs on campus at Temple University.

FILE: A flag hangs on campus at Temple University.

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(Harrisburg) — Temple University is adding itself to the growing number of colleges and universities in Pennsylvania that are sending students home because of the new coronavirus, while more positive tests cropped up in the state and Allentown city’s schools shut down Thursday and Friday.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Health on Thursday reported 21 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. That is up from 16 the previous day.

Allentown, which said an employee was tested for COVID-19, is one of Pennsylvania largest school districts, and is the largest in the state to order a temporary closing because of the new coronavirus.

A look at the latest developments in Pennsylvania:

CASES

All of the cases of positive tests are in eastern Pennsylvania. Hardest hit is Montgomery County with 13 cases, while the first case in Northampton County was reported.

Dozens of tests are pending, although testing remained limited to people who meet certain criteria, including having traveled to certain places or contact with someone who tested positive.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover.

All high-touch areas in a chemistry classroom are wiped down with a cleaning solution applied to a cloth. Custodial staff at East Pennsboro High School sanitize surfaces each day as a precautionary measure for the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, March 11, 2020

Dan Gleiter / PennLive

All high-touch areas in a chemistry classroom are wiped down with a cleaning solution applied to a cloth. Custodial staff at East Pennsboro High School sanitize surfaces each day as a precautionary measure for the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, March 11, 2020

SCHOOLS

Allentown schools said an employee showed symptoms and was tested for COVID-19, but they gave no information about the outcome. As a result, the district ordered schools closed Thursday and Friday for cleaning, with plans to reopen Monday.

Meanwhile, Temple University in Philadelphia told its 39,000 students that in-person instruction is ending for the semester and online instruction begins Monday. Students in university housing have until the end of next week to leave and students who live off-campus were encouraged to go home.

More than a dozen other schools in Pennsylvania, including as Penn State, Pitt, St. Joseph’s and Penn, are taking similar steps.

CANCELLATIONS

The state Department of Corrections on Thursday stopped all prison visitor buses from private vendors as hospitals and prisons tighten visitor policies or screening.

St. Patrick’s Day parades in Philadelphia, Scranton, York and Pittsburgh were canceled. Schools are canceling competitions, performances, sporting events and more.

Montgomery County is urging the cancellation of public events, while Philadelphia officials are urging people not to attend events of more than 5,000 attendees, including professional sporting events. The Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia said Thursday that it was closing for a cleaning and would reschedule the day’s events.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration told tens of thousands of state workers to avoid out-of-state business travel and large gatherings, but the administration stopped short of ordering otherwise healthy employees to work from home.

 

Disclosure: The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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