The University of Arizona’s virtual status update team announced the end of mandatory masking on campus during their meeting on Monday, March 14. The university intends to end the mask mandate on Monday, March 21.
“Good morning everyone, thank you for joining us yet again,” said President Dr. Robert C. Robbins. “As we return from spring break, the University of Arizona is making some changes to our COVID-19 mitigation protocols based on improvements in the public health conditions here in Arizona.”
Robbins emphasized that the relaxing of mitigation protocols was based on recently released CDC guidelines.
“With the return from spring break and many students, faculty and staff traveling over the past week, I believe it is prudent to see what level of infection is present among our university community before changing our protocol for the Tucson campus. Following a week where the members of our campus community all have an opportunity to test, if we see new case counts aligned with Arizona and Pima County, we will be well positioned to relax our mask protocols as suggested in the CDC guidance. Therefore, our plan is that beginning on Monday, March 21, one week from today, masks will be recommended, but not required or necessary for indoor spaces at the university’s Tucson and other Pima County locations.”
Robbins stated that the UA would continue to monitor COVID-19 case numbers and transmission levels, and readjust mitigation protocols if necessary. He stated that the Phoenix campus had ended the mask requirement on March 7, in accordance with CDC guidelines. Robbins asked the UA community to continue to mask on the Cat Tran, and stated that masking would still be required in medical situations and other situations where personal protective equipment has always been required.
“As these changes go into place, I want to again emphasize the vital importance of compassion for one another, especially those that are most vulnerable to this still deadly virus,” Robbins said.
“To our students, faculty and staff, fellow members of our community might ask you to wear a mask when near them in a classroom, office or meeting space. I plead with you, I ask that you respect their needs and be mindful that others have varying levels of risk from COVID-19; not only their own risk, but risk for those who they may be caring for at their homes."
Robbins emphasized the importance of testing, particularly for those who traveled over spring break. He once again emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated.
Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the United States and distinguished professor at the UA took the floor to discuss the COVID-19 public health situation.
The most recent day of testing, March 11, had a total of 2 positive cases out of 189 tests submitted, a positivity rate of 1.1%. There have been 33 positive cases out of 3,459 tests during the ten most recent testing days, a positivity rate of 1%.
At the time of the briefing, 80.7% of Pima County residents had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“I want to emphasize here, if you’re living with or around people that are immunocompromised, if you are immunocompromised, take the appropriate precautions,” Carmona said. “Even as masking starts to go by the wayside so to speak as we move forward, and you see it all around the country and in our state, but for those of you at high risk, it probably still is important that you consider masking up, and if you live with people who’re immunocompromised, you wanna make sure to protect them and yourself, that you consider masking in those situations.”
During the briefing, the VUSU team also highlighted the UA’s Wonder House at this year’s South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.
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