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U.S. universities reinstate mask mandates


Senior Lauren Pyjar, wearing a mask to prevent the coronavirus infection (COVID-19), takes advantage of the sunny weather to go outside to study at Georgetown University in Washington on March 9, 2021.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

After Covid cases on campus, at least twelve colleges and universities in America restored their indoor mask mandates. 

Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, and Georgetown University among others announced that they would require facial coverings once again in classrooms and certain indoor spaces. Some schools mentioned the risk of contracting the more deadly omicron BA.2 Subvariant virus, which is the predominant strain in the U.S.

As BA.2 increases the number of cases across the country, and there is a debate about whether masks should be mandated to curtail its growth, their actions are a sign that they have taken these steps. Just weeks after many major cities eased their health restrictions, policymakers are now considering whether or not to mandate face coverings. The move comes as Americans feel a new sense of normalcy that is unmatched since the Pandemic.

Neil Maniar is the director of Northeastern University’s Master of Public Health Urban Health Program. He stated that “the national debate about mask mandates is certain to reflect both pandemic fatigue as well as the deep political divisions we have regarding the public health policies related to Covid.” 

“It is difficult to distinguish the political aspects from the public-health and science-based realities on how to respond to this pandemic,” said he.

The shift away from pandemic-era rules — and concerns about whether the moves were premature amid rising cases — continued last week after a federal judge struck down a federal mask mandate for planes and other public transit. The Biden administration plans to appealThe decision.

Philadelphia, alsoifted its indoor mask mandate FridayIt was reinstated in New York just days after it became the first major U.S. metro to do so. Officials from the public health department said that the change was due to recent decreases in Covid-related hospitalizations. 

As of Thursday, there were 242 new cases per day, as compared to 377 the previous week. A city report also showed that hospitalizations fell to 65, down from the 82 recorded on April 17 press release

Six Philadelphia schools responded to the city’s reverse, loosening the tougher mask rules they had reintroduced in the previous week in accordance with the city’s mandate. These include Thomas Jefferson, Drexel, Temple, La SalleAnd St. Joseph’s University

Also, the University of Pennsylvania lifted Although it has an indoor space requirement, students still need to wear masks for public places on campus. 

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Maniar stated that decisions regarding masks are a move towards localized, individual decision-making in response to the pandemic. 

Maniar explained that instead of pursuing a universal approach, he is moving towards individualized, tailored solutions that respond to the specific Covid levels in an organization, community or university. 

According to him, “Depending on what’s happening in a particular area, reinstating an existing mask requirement may or not be warranted so long as it responds to the data that is apparent at the local scale.”

New York State

Schools have had to rethink their policies regarding masks, even though Covid infection rates have increased beyond Philadelphia. New York State has three schools that have reinstituted their indoor mask requirements. 

University of Rochester announced earlierIt announced this month that its indoor mask mandate would be temporarily reinstituted on all campuses and property. It said that it had responded to Covid cases, which “straining the ability” of its quarantine and isolation areas on campuses. 

According to a university statement, “The University has seen a rising number of student COVID cases in recent days.” 

Columbia University in New York City said earlier this month Students would have to use non-cloth masks while in class for the remainder of spring semester. Columbia noted an increase in NYC cases and a higher test positivity rate at the university. 

Barnard College is a Columbia-affiliated women’s college. reimposed Due to an increase of cases since the lifting of March 28’s rule, it mandated that certain indoor spaces be covered by a mask on April 6. 

These decisions are coming as the number of cases in America’s largest city rises. According to the New York City Police Department, April 18 saw 2,348 daily cases rise in NYC compared with 2,027 one week ago. data From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data show that the number of cases in the city has dropped to 1,565 on a 7-day basis.

The seven-day average rolling 7-day New York State was 4,029 (April 24, excluding New York City), up from 3,631 the previous week and 2,899 the week before, CDC data said. From April 1 through April 22, the state’s 7-day positivity rate for test positiveness increased from 3.65% to 8.97%. 

New York and NYC do not have indoor mask mandates, despite having lifted them several week ago. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority requires that masks be worn on NYC subways and buses, in spite of the Florida judge’s recent decision to repeal the federal transportation mask mandate. 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul saidIn a tweet, the State Health Department stated that the requirement for a transit mask would be maintained in line with the guidance.

Washington D.C. 

Howard University in Washington D.C. is the newest school. reintroduceThere are no exceptions to the requirement for wearing masks. Through the spring semester, students will need to cover their faces in all outdoor and indoor environments. This university went further than most schools by announcing that it will offer certain undergraduate courses online and hold final exams remotely. 

George Washington University announced earlierThe school announced that they would be requiring masks on all campuses this week. This mandate was extended to the spring semester, the exam period, and commencement. 

American University reinstated All Georgetown buildings are required to wear the indoor mask. announced It would also require indoor masking on its two campuses. The mandate will not be applicable to private individuals or their personal homes, nor to those who are actively drinking or eating. 

The four D.C. universities cited high levels of transmission and substantial case growth on campuses. These are partly driven by BA.2. 

According to CDC the average seven-day daily rate of new cases in Washington D.C. for April 18 was 119, down from 293 a few weeks earlier. data. However, the seven-day positivity rate for district tests rose to 1.8% from April 1 through 17. Since April 22, the percentage of positive cases dropped to 3.89%. 

Washington D.C. endedIn February 2012, the Metro removed its indoor mask requirement. It hasn’t reinstated it since. Metro D.C. masks optional After the Florida judge’s decision, it will continue to operate its railways, buses and shared-ride service. 

University mask regulations are being reinstated in cities beyond New York City and Washington. The following schools have reintroduced indoor facial covering requirements: University of Connecticut, Bowdoin University, Rice UniversityAnd Williams College. JHU said It will require that masks be worn in all classrooms, communal areas and dining rooms, with the exception of when you are actively drinking or eating, by April 6. 

Maniar stated that other universities or local authorities could immediately reinstate the mask mandates. He also suggested that these institutions should use Covid indicators to inform their decision-making. 

It is possible to return masks when we see an increase of patients, hospitalizations and corresponding increases in percentage positivity,” he stated. 

Maniar said, “We don’t want to overburden the healthcare system in any particular area or community. If we see an increase in these indicators then I can envision that this will trigger a reinstatement in mask requirements in certain settings, and most certainly at universities.