The following message has been sent to the Drexel community regarding possible changes to indoor mask requirements.
- The COVID-19 pandemic continues to come to our region in waves that can occasionally disrupt routines.
- The City of Philadelphia is considering whether current case data supports moving to Response Level 2 with the implementation of an indoor mask requirement. The City could issue a decision as soon as Monday, April 11.
- Drexel has not seen a major increase in COVID-19 cases so far after spring break.
- If the city goes back to wearing masks indoors, Drexel must do the same and require the use of masks in all shared indoor spaces.
- Be optimistic and prepare.
Dear Drexel students and colleagues,
While we are not making any changes yet, Drexel is keeping an eye on the latest COVID-19 case data in the Philadelphia area, driven by Omicron’s BA.2 subvariant. The Philadelphia Department of Health has released COVID response levels and actions, and the data suggests the city could soon move to Level 2, which includes mask precautions. Depending on guidance from the city early next week, we may have to modify our guidelines related to wearing masks indoors. In the meantime, please continue to follow existing guidelines and watch for further communications from the University. More information is below.
COVID-19 cases increase regionally
With the increasing prevalence of the BA.2 Omicron subvariant, Philadelphia’s COVID case counts have increased over the past ten days. Based on this week’s data, the City is likely to make a decision early next week on whether to require indoor mask wearing once again in public spaces and businesses. If the City decides to do so, Drexel will follow suit, making the wearing of masks mandatory in most indoor areas of campus for the time being. If Philadelphia decides that current levels of cases or hospitalizations do not warrant an indoor mask mandate, Drexel will maintain its current two-tier mask-wearing system (masks must be worn in classrooms, healthcare settings and on the ferry).
The full impact of Omicron BA.2 has yet to be determined, but we expect most cases to be milder, with a lower rate of severe illness and hospitalization than earlier in the pandemic. However, increased contagiousness means this subvariant spreads more easily, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health has already recommended that people “seriously consider” wearing a mask in indoor public spaces.
Drexel remains low risk but out of caution
Drexel is cautious but optimistic about any future changes. We are a highly vaccinated responsible community with excellent testing and contact tracing protocols in place and have come so far in the last two years. We pay close attention to ventilation that meets or exceeds ASHRE standards in our spaces and improve air exchange where needed. Face masks have been shown to markedly reduce the risk of infection for the wearer and those around them, and while risk assessment is increasingly left to individuals, we make decisions based on ourselves. Y others. At this time, additional requirements will be instituted in response to City directives. We anticipate that, in general, we will continue the trend of allowing more individual decision-making about risk related to the pandemic.
Testing among our campus community at the beginning of the term revealed a relatively low rate of COVID positivity among returning students. However, we have seen a slight increase in the number of Drexel community members being tested for respiratory illnesses. Although many of these cases are not related to COVID, the number of COVID cases also increased slightly this week due to off-campus social gatherings rather than classroom or workplace exposures. This further highlights the increase in Omicron BA.2 transmission in our region.
Take sensible precautions, such as staying home if you feel sick, wearing a mask at crowded social events, and continuing to get tested if you experience common COVID symptoms, even if you think they may be allergies or a cold.
Be optimistic, be prepared
Two years of experience, scientific advances and knowledge of COVID-19 have taught us a lot. Hopefully the pandemic waves will soon subside. In the meantime, living our lives in the context of the risk of new diseases need not stop us. We know what to do:
- Get a boost if you haven’t already. In addition, the CDC has released new guidance for certain people to get a second booster dose of the vaccine. This guide is optional and Drexel does not require a second booster for any student or employee. However, if you are in one of the eligible groups, you can get a second booster dose at Drexel vaccination sites or at the nearest retail pharmacy.
- Make sure you have high-filtration face masks that fit well. Did you lose your mask? You can request a KN95 and/or KF94 high filtration mask at the Hagerty Library, DAC, Recreation Center, Main Building Lobby, Kline Law School, New College Building Lobby, Kline Law School Security Desk, Queen Lane and at the Drexel COVID Testing Centers; the federal government is also making free N95 masks available.
- When in doubt, test. Even if your test results are clear, be sure to wear a mask around other people if you feel unwell. Have a supply of COVID tests at home for additional self-monitoring ability. You can request free COVID tests online through the US government. In addition, many insurance companies also reimburse up to 8 home tests per month. Check with your insurance company for more details, as there are different requirements for each.
We’ll be in touch with updates
In addition to communicating via email, we will always post the latest COVID safety updates on our Coronavirus Response site. Have a burning question that can’t wait? Email ROC@Drexel.edu.
Stay tuned and take care of yourselves,
Dr. Marla J. Gold
TheirIor Vice Chancellor of Community Health
Dr. Janet Cruz
Director, Student Health Services