Mask mandates return as COVID-19 cases rise across U.S.

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Columbia University is once more requiring its college students to masks up in school rooms, with public well being consultants urging warning as COVID-19 case numbers climb across the U.S. 

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 City after cases had fallen sharply earlier this year was punctuated on Sunday when Mayor Eric Adams examined constructive for the virus. 

The virus can also be flaring elsewhere across the U.S. More than two dozen states across the nation reported a soar in cases during the last eight days, though hospitalizations and deaths haven’t seen a commensurate rise. Nearly 1 million Americans have died of COVID-19, with a mean of 500 individuals succumbing to the illness day-after-day, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Monday, Columbia is requiring that college students put on non-cloth masks in school rooms, in accordance with a student-run news site. The masks mandate, which is able to stay in place by way of the rest of the spring semester, applies to all college students, however to not professors, for whom masks are optionally available.  

“As has been our policy all year, instructors have the option to remove their masks while teaching. Current policies on masking in all other settings continue unchanged,” the college’s COVID-19 director, Donna Lynne, stated in an announcement. 

The transfer comes after Barnard College, 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 school rooms, eating halls, research areas and at Columbia-sponsored occasions, in accordance with the identical pupil publication. 

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

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

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

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

Bettigole famous that COVID-19 cases have elevated by greater than 50% in a 10-day span. Although hospitalizations stay low as a consequence of COVID-19, she expects one other wave of the illness linked to the Omicron BA.2 subvariant, which is now dominant within the U.S.

“If we do that, we can literally save the lives of vulnerable Philadelphians,” she stated, including that by sporting masks residents can “continue to take part in the life of the city without increasing transmission.”

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

“In the interest of keeping the economic life of the city flowing, the best thing we can do is keep cases 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 City, Broadway theaters proceed to require that viewers members put on masks. Even with the rule in place, reveals are cancelling performances as a consequence of actors testing constructive for COVID-19.