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In the wake of the latest variant of Covid-19, several universities in the country are reinstating mask mandates, citing a “significant increase” of coronavirus cases on campuses.
Among the more notable institutions that have reinstated the mandates are Georgetown University, Rice University, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, and American university.
An announcement back on April 6th of the return of the mask policy by Georgetown University summarizes much of the thinking behind most of the other establishments as well, saying that the uptick in Covid-19 cases has forced them to reinstate a mask mandate while indoors on university property:
“We are taking these steps in response to a significant increase in COVID-19 cases on the Main Campus and Medical Center campuses this week, particularly among undergraduate students. This increase is partly due to the impact of the BA.2 omicron subvariant. BA.2 is now the dominant strain in the United States, including in DC and on our campuses. While recent studies show that BA.2 does not cause more severe illness than the initial omicron variant, they also show that BA.2 is even more transmissible.”
Similarly, on April 10th Columbia University also announced that it was reinstating its mask policy, citing the “current situation” and “an abundance of caution.”
“We remain in low-risk or green status based on Columbia’s COVID-19 monitoring plan and so does New York City based on its designated risk levels. Over the past few weeks there has been an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in New York City and not surprisingly in the percent positivity in our own surveillance testing program,” the school announced.
According to Georgetown’s online dashboard, 98 percent of the faculty and students alike are vaccinated against Covid-19. However, with the increase in cases, largely blamed on the new BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, some are calling for a return to mask mandates.
However, not everyone is convinced that re-masking will actually accomplish anything. Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor of medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center, and commentator for Fox News gave his take on the return of the mask policy, stating bluntly “the time for mask mandates is gone” when asked.
“So as an overall philosophy, I’m against mask mandates right now. The time for mask mandates is gone,” Siegel told Fox News Digital.
Siegel went on to say that a mask mandate would be acceptable in certain situations, such as a large increase in cases of Covid-19 on campus. The professor also stated that such an outbreak on campus is unlikely, given the very high vaccination rate of the vast majority of colleges and universities.
Another reason why Siegel wasn’t too concerned was that the group in question, college students, are overwhelmingly in the young and healthy category most likely to resist Covid-19, just as they are less at risk for things like heart disease or diabetes than older members of society.
“The fact that that age group is not at much risk for severe disease, that makes me want to have almost no mandates. Mandates should be reserved for high volume situation for risky disease that we’re moving away from that,” Siegel noted
Regardless of risk, or lack thereof, many universities are choosing to act on an “abundance of caution,” as Columbia University stated.
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