As we enter the third year of the coronavirus pandemic, we are optimistic about the state of COVID-19 on our campus and in the community around us. We are in a very different place than we were just two months ago.
Infections and hospitalizations have declined since their peak in January; the vast majority of our campus community has been vaccinated and received booster shots; and new therapies, including anti-viral medications, are now more readily available. With these changing circumstances, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently updated its mask guidance, and we correspondingly now align our University of Utah health and safety guidelines:
- The CDC now classifies Salt Lake County’s community level of COVID-19 as “medium.” For the “medium” community level, CDC recommends that individuals stay up to date with vaccines and boosters, get tested when symptomatic and that high-risk individuals discuss mask precautions with their health provider. Indoor masking is not required with a “medium” community level of COVID-19.
- Accordingly, when students and faculty return to campus on March 14 at the end of spring break, masks will not be required in indoor spaces on main campus. The general public will not be required to wear masks in public facilities—including the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Natural History Museum of Utah, and Pioneer Theatre. It is important that our campus remain “mask-friendly.” Those who still wish to wear masks are encouraged to do so, especially those at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
- The CDC’s new guidelines do not apply to health care facilities. To protect higher-risk individuals, patients, employees, students, and visitors must continue masking in all U of U Health buildings.
- We will continue to provide COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots in U of U Health clinics. Self-test kiosks will remain active on campus through the end of the spring semester.
While many of us will be able to relax the health and safety precautions we have been taking since the start of the global health crisis, we know many in our community will not be able to have the same freedoms. The elderly, people who are immunocompromised, and those with disabilities are still at high risk for serious COVID-19 illness. We encourage all members of our community to keep them in mind as we begin to return to a more normal state of operations on the University of Utah campus.