COVID Cases Increasing, Indoor Masking Returns Starting April 18
The following message, about the return of indoor masking starting on April 18, was sent to the Drexel community.
- COVID-19 infections are rising among Drexel students and in our region.
- The City of Philadelphia has upgraded to COVID response Level 2. Effective April 18, mask-wearing will be required in indoor public places, including many businesses and large events.
- An increase in COVID-19 infection and disease among students and employees is connected to home exposures and social gatherings.
- In response to City directives, starting Monday, April 18, Drexel will return to masking in most indoor shared spaces.
- At the Recreation Center and in Drexel Housing, masking will be optional but is highly recommended.
- When in doubt, mask. If you are in a space and unsure of the policy, wear a mask.
- Events that include food and beverage will continue with some modification. Please follow posted guidelines.
- Continue to assess your individual, group and situational risk, and take appropriate precautions. Remember to stay home and get tested if you feel sick.
Dear Drexel Students and Colleagues,
As anticipated, the City of Philadelphia has responded to briskly rising COVID-19 cases by moving to Level 2 of its COVID response levels; Philadelphia will require mask-wearing in indoor public spaces starting this coming Monday. City officials are hopeful that this pandemic wave will be milder compared to previous ones, and we anticipate it will pass in a few weeks. If there is no increase in hospitalizations related to this wave, we may even see a change in the City’s COVID response levels.
Starting this Monday, April 18, the University will once again require mask-wearing in all indoor shared spaces, with a few exceptions.All community members must wear a mask, even if you are fully vaccinated and boosted. Masks will remain optional at the Recreation Center as well as in Drexel Housing; however, we encourage you to mask up in these spaces as well, based on your personal and group assessment of risk.
Increase in COVID Exposure and Infection among the Drexel Community
Drexel is also seeing an increase of COVID-19 infections particularly among students, related to the Omicron BA.2 subvariant. These infections appear to be coming from cases of exposures within families and from off-campus social gatherings.
In addition to wearing a mask, please consider your risk of exposure when you make plans and take appropriate precautions when deciding whether to attend social events. Grab a mask and take the steps to avoid COVID infection, feeling sick, exposing others and having to isolate for at least 5 days.Likewise, please stay home if you are feeling unwell in any way and get a COVID test. Even if your test comes up negative, if you are feeling sick, try to stay home and always wear a mask if you will be around other people.
Why Return to Full Indoor Masking?
We have every reason to hope that this return to indoor mask-wearing will be relatively brief—and all the briefer for the proactive nature of the City and University response. By taking action now, the City is trying to avoid further restrictions that become necessary when University and City resources are overwhelmed with contact tracing and hospitalizations. In addition, we want to make sure that fewer people have to interrupt their routines with quarantine or isolation, and that those who are immunocompromised or unable to be vaccinated are able to participate in campus life with relative safety. Between waves, the main precautions needed are our high level of vaccination, boosting and sensible risk assessment. As case counts rise, indoor masking provides a powerful layer of additional defense. We believe that requiring indoor mask-wearing now may be the least disruptive way to move forward.
Dining, Events, and Visitors
Eating is still allowed everywhere except instructional settings during class, Disability Resources testing spaces, shuttles/public transit, ticketed theater events, and health care facilities, but please keep your mask on except when you are sitting down and actively eating or drinking.
Visitors are permitted on campus, but they must wear a well-fitting mask when indoors (regardless of vaccination status). On-campus events will also still occur. It is up to the event host to ensure that food and beverage are planned following Drexel’s posted guidance. We recommend structuring events so that guests are seated while eating—reception-style events are strongly discouraged at this time.
The Bottom Line
While we remain in a much better place at this time during the pandemic, increases in viral transmission can still necessitate changes in precautions at different times. Many friends and families are observing holidays starting this week. Please keep one another safe by taking the steps you know to protect yourself and others. Omicron subvariant BA.2 is highly transmissible, and the number of student infections is markedly increasing this week. Guidance can be confusing, but the bottom line is effective Monday, April 18
- Mask in all University buildings except the Recreation Center and Drexel Housing where masking remains optional.
- If you need a mask, you can request a KN95 and/or KF94 at multiple Drexel locations, including Hagerty Library, DAC, Recreation Center, Main Building Lobby, Kline School of Law, New College Building lobby, the Queen Lane security desk and at Drexel’s COVID testing centers. You can also find free N95 masks locally through the federal government.
- Keep your mask on until you are seated and eating during meals or events in Drexel buildings and City restaurants.
- Be aware that when you attend social events, your risk of COVID infection is higher than it was a few weeks ago. Please plan accordingly.
Further information will be sent to undergraduate students later today concerning how best to avoid COVID infection during this time of higher viral transmission. Our latest guidelines are available on our Response to Coronavirus site, and you can address any additional questions to ROC@Drexel.edu.
Thank you, and take care,
Marla J. Gold, MD
Chief Wellness Officer
Senior Vice Provost for Community Health
Janet Cruz, MD
Director, Drexel Student Health