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Cases spiking among young adults, college students | Coronavirus Newsletter

Plus, what went wrong with Chester County’s antibody testing program

Penn State University freshmen move their belongings to their resident hall on the University Park campus on Aug. 18, 2020. Freshmen were assigned a specific day and time for their move-in due to Covid-19 restrictions. CRAIG HOUTZ / For the Inquirer
Penn State University freshmen move their belongings to their resident hall on the University Park campus on Aug. 18, 2020. Freshmen were assigned a specific day and time for their move-in due to Covid-19 restrictions. CRAIG HOUTZ / For the InquirerRead moreCRAIG HOUTZ

TL;DR: Outbreaks on college campuses are leading to spikes in Pennsylvania college towns, and in New Jersey, infections among teenagers and young adults are on the rise. And in Chester County, a bold new antibody testing program that cost millions ended after just a few weeks.

— Allison Steele (@AESteele,

What you need to know:

🏈 No Eagles fans will be allowed inside Lincoln Financial Field until there is a “significant" drop in Philadelphia’s coronavirus cases, Pennsylvania health officials said.

💉 Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said many Americans may not get access to a COVID-19 vaccine until the end of 2021.

🍴 Adults who tested positive for COVID-19 were about twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant before contracting the virus, according to a new CDC study.

✈️ International flights from countries hit hard by the pandemic will be allowed to land in Philadelphia next week for the first time since March.

📰 What’s going on in your county? We organized recent coverage of the coronavirus pandemic by local counties mentioned in the stories to make it easier for you to find the info you care about.

Local coronavirus cases

📈The coronavirus has swept across the Philadelphia region and cases continue to mount. The Inquirer and Spotlight PA are compiling geographic data on tests conducted, cases confirmed, and deaths caused by the virus. Track the spread here.

Campus outbreaks are contributing to spikes in college towns like State College, and Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine said young people need encouragement, not scoldings, to start taking precautions against the virus. Her statement came after college administrators across the country have admonished students for partying at reopened campuses. Despite hundreds more cases, Penn State officials said they would not cancel in-person classes.

While there have been some cases at elementary, middle, and high schools that have reopened in Pennsylvania, Levine said the most “significant increases” are among college students between the ages of 19 and 24. That holds true in New Jersey as well, where people between 19 and 24 have the state’s highest percent of positive cases.

Chester County planned to test blood from about one million essential workers, in hopes of detecting antibodies and better understanding the coronavirus. But the program ended after a month, after millions were paid to a politically connected biotech firm, and a former county health official now says the tests may have been generating inaccurate results.

Helpful resources

  1. These 8 principles of social distancing can help you figure out what you can and can’t do.

  2. If you’ve hit a COVID-19 wall, here are ways to cope.

  3. The coronavirus is mainly transmitted through the air. Here’s how to tell if your ventilation is OK.

  4. How does the virus affect your entire body?

  5. Here’s what to know about traveling safely during the pandemic.

You got this: Tell the difference between COVID-19 and the flu

With cold and flu season on the horizon, science reporter Tom Avril talked to local experts about how to tell the difference between seasonal illnesses, allergies, and a possible coronavirus infection. There’s even a handy chart listing the symptoms.

🎨 A new Herbie the Love Bug mural in West Philly has a driving purpose — suicide prevention.

🌱 The pandemic caused a seed shortage. Here’s how you can help by saving yours.

💗 After Habitat for Humanity repaired his home, a West Philly veteran in recovery opened his doors to other struggling veterans to help them find peace and sanctuary.

Have a social distancing tip or question to share? Let us know at and your input might be featured in a future edition of this newsletter.

What we’re paying attention to

  1. When COVID-19 hit, the United States was ranked first in its ability to handle the outbreak. Time magazine looked at why those perceived strengths turned out not to matter in the face of the nation’s weaknesses.

  2. The New Yorker explores: What role did the trafficking of elusive pangolin creatures in Africa play in the origin of COVID-19?

  3. A psychiatrist wrote for the New York Times about being the lone person to wear a mask at a birthday party in Pennsylvania, and the social minefield created by our new normal.

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