A recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases in some parts of the COUNTRY has disrupted previously peaceful campuses. Fears of a resurgence have prompted many us universities to sound the alarm and reinstate mask mandates. Wearing a mask or not is still a controversial issue in the United States amid the ongoing pandemic.
Universities have resumed epidemic prevention measures
According to the Associated Press, some universities in Washington, D.C., New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Texas are among the first to reinstate mask mandates due to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
In New York State, where the virus has spread rapidly, several schools resumed the policy last week, including the University of Rochester, Columbia University, and Syracuse University.
Inside the building at Columbia University, a sign reads: everyone, whether vaccinated or not, is requested to wear a mask in the classroom.
In Washington, D.C., Georgetown University, George Washington University, and others have enacted similar initiatives. The number of new cases in Washington, D.C., has more than doubled since April. There are also school regulations requiring people to wear masks not only in class but also in common areas of dormitories.
At the same time, other epidemic prevention measures at universities have also been tightened.
In Houston, Rice University announced earlier this month that it would cancel all large campus events except for masks in classrooms.
Johns Hopkins University in Maryland announced it would test all its undergraduates twice a week.
New Mexico State University announced last week that all students on campus must be fully vaccinated by July 1.
Howard University in Washington, D.C., resumed remote instruction last week as a precaution against a backlash.
As this is the third academic year in a row affected by COVID-19, it means that many graduating students have never had a chance to experience normal college life.
Kitt Urdang, a junior at Williams College in Massachusetts, understands that “there’s a lot of uncertainty on campus when the pandemic hits,” as several of his friends have recently contracted COVID-19.
Lia DeGroot of George Washington University says wearing masks is a minor event, and “I don’t think people are too upset about it.”
Still, there are complaints. Neeraj Sudhakar, a student at Columbia University, said, “We probably have a 99 percent vaccination rate, so I think we just need to treat this as a local epidemic. We don’t need to repeat what happened in the last two years.”
Schools are mostly cautious. Anita Barkin, head of the American College Health Association’s CORONAVIRUS task force, said appropriate measures are needed to reduce the impact of transmission on school campuses.
A “polarizing” issue
The U.S. media noted that not only high schools but also some parts of the United States are reversing their quarantine policies.
A sharp drop in coronavirus cases in the United States this spring led many places to lift mask mandates. But in recent weeks, cases and hospitalizations have begun to rise again in parts of the northeastern United States as the spread of omicron BA.2 has accelerated.
Mask mandates have begun to make a comeback in some parts of the United States, especially after the highly contagious BA.2 became the dominant strain circulating in the United States, the Daily Penn noted.
Philadelphia is one of the first major cities in the United States to reinstate a mandatory mask requirement for indoor public places. In early April, Philadelphia raised its alert level from level 1, “all clear,” to level 2, “mask prevention,” after a 50 percent rise in new cases. But the directive lasted only four days and then became a strong recommendation to wear masks in indoor public places.
Forbes noted that mask mandates have long been a “polarizing” issue in the US, with states deeply divided and directives confusing. Several local governments have asked the federal government to lift the mandate, while others have chosen to let people decide whether to wear masks.
In the long fight against the epidemic, Americans have a mixed love/hate relationship with masks.
In early April, a Harris poll showed that 60 percent of Americans support extending the mask mandate. But interestingly, only 23 percent of Americans said they wore masks at all times in public, the lowest level since April 2020, according to data from the University of Washington in Seattle in early April.
A Pew Research Center survey found that vaccinated Americans were more likely to wear masks than those who had not been vaccinated — 32 percent versus 70 percent.
Public health experts in the United States have warned of lax loopholes in quarantine policies as the pandemic continues. Not only are fewer people still wearing masks, but the proportion of reagent tests has dropped significantly, making it difficult for officials to count daily infections.