Mask mandates return as COVID-19 cases rise across US

Columbia College is once more requiring its college students to masks up in lecture rooms, with public well being specialists urging warning as COVID-19 case numbers climb throughout the US

The college’s head of COVID-19 protocols over the weekend introduced the change, citing elevated infections within the native space. The illness’s resurgence in New York Metropolis after instances had fallen sharply earlier this yr was punctuated on Sunday when Mayor Eric Adams examined optimistic for the virus.

The virus can also be flaring elsewhere across the US. Greater than two dozen states throughout the nation reported a bounce in instances during the last eight days, though hospitalizations and deaths haven’t seen a commensurate rise. Practically 1 million Individuals have died of COVID-19, with a mean of 500 folks succumbing to the illness every single day, in line with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

As of Monday, Columbia is requiring that college students put on non-cloth masks in lecture rooms, in line with a student-run information website. The masks mandate, which can stay in place by the rest of the spring semester, applies to all college students, however to not professors, for whom masks are non-obligatory.

“As has been our coverage all yr, instructors have the choice to take away their masks whereas instructing. Present insurance policies on masking in all different settings proceed unchanged,” the college’s COVID-19 director, Donna Lynne, stated in a press release.

The transfer comes after Barnard Faculty, a ladies’s undergraduate faculty affiliated with Columbia, reinstated its indoor masks rule on April 6. Barnard is requiring that college students put on face coverings in lecture rooms, eating halls, examine areas and at Columbia-sponsored occasions, in line with the identical scholar publication.

Barnard began requiring masks once more after the faculty noticed a spike in instances after its earlier masks mandate was lifted on March 28, inflicting COVID-19 signs and absences amongst group members.

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Columbia and Barnard aren’t alone in reimposing coronavirus precautions. At the least two different universities — Georgetown in Washington, DC, and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland — are asking college students to masks up once more. Georgetown introduced the reinstatement of a brief indoor masks mandate on starting April 7 in response to a major rise in instances on campus. The requirement will stay in impact for the foreseeable future, in line with Georgetown.

Johns Hopkins additionally reinstated its masks mandate on April 7 after roughly 100 undergraduate college students examined optimistic for COVID-19 in lower than per week.

Philadelphia well being commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole stated in a press convention on Monday that residents must dig up their masks once more. Town will implement a masks mandate beginning April 18, requiring folks to put on facial coverings inside all companies in Philadelphia.

Bettigole famous that COVID-19 instances have elevated by greater than 50% in a 10-day span. Though hospitalizations stay low because of COVID-19, she expects one other wave of the illness linked to the Omicron BA.2 subvariantwhich is now dominant within the US

“If we try this, we are able to actually save the lives of susceptible Philadelphians,” she stated, including that by carrying masks residents can “proceed to participate within the lifetime of town with out rising transmission.”

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Some Philadelphia enterprise house owners have objected to masks guidelines, saying they trigger rigidity between them and prospects who do not want to cowl their faces. However Bettigole reiterated that enterprise and public well being pursuits are literally aligned.

“Within the curiosity of retaining the financial lifetime of town flowing, one of the best factor we are able to do is preserve instances down,” she stated, whereas noting that institutions nonetheless requiring proof of vaccination for entry don’t additionally need to require masks.

Elsewhere in New York Metropolis, Broadway theaters proceed to require that viewers members put on masks. Even with the rule in place, reveals are canceling performances because of actors testing optimistic for COVID-19.

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