The Lehigh COVID-19 Response Team announced in an email today that starting Aug. 2, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people will be required to wear masks in indoor public areas on campus.
The email said the policy change is in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updating their mask guidance earlier this week, as the number of Delta variant cases rise and vaccinated people have been reported to be infected with the variant.
The CDC is recommending fully vaccinated people should wear a mask in indoor settings where there is a high substantial transmission, meaning 50 or more COVID-19 cases are reported per 100,000 people over a 7 day period, the email said.
Northampton County has reported 55 cases/100,000 people over the last week, a 293 percent increase from the average two weeks ago, marking the area a place of substantial transmission.
The new masking policy will require masks to be worn in all indoor public spaces including classrooms, shared offices, labs and fitness spaces.
Masks may be removed while students are eating or drinking or alone in a public space.
For residence halls, students should wear masks in the hallways and common spaces but will not be required to wear masks in their room.
At this time, there are no new social distancing guidelines or COVID-19 capacity limits and the fall semester will resume in-person activities.
The email said everyone is strongly encouraged to get vaccinated and full vaccination is the “best course of defense against serious illness from COVID and the threat of new variants.”
“We are hopeful that this change in the masking requirement will be temporary,” the email said. “We will continue to monitor data and guidance from the CDC and other public health sources, especially as it relates to data on new variants.”