University leaders extended the University’s indoor mask mandate and encouraged attendees to wear a mask at Saturday’s football home opener, regardless of vaccination status, in a community-wide email from Provost Liz Magill and Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis sent Thursday morning. The University will now reevaluate its indoor mask requirement for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals by Oct. 1, having originally planned to revisit the policy Sept. 6.
The announcement follows 31 cases of COVID-19 reported in the University community among 848 individuals tested Tuesday — the highest number of cases the University has reported since Feb. 26. The current seven-day average positivity rate among University community members is 3.17 percent.
In the email, Davis and Magill emphasized the mask mandate applies to indoor locations at Scott Stadium, including bathrooms, and reminded community members of the University’s masking policy, which requires unvaccinated individuals to wear masks even when outdoors.
University administrators and public health officials are actively monitoring COVID-19 conditions in the Charlottesville area and Commonwealth, including case positivity rates and hospitalizations, the email stated.
Since students returned for move-in the week of Aug. 16, the University has seen a steady increase in cases. According to the University’s COVID-19 tracker, the seven-day average of cases was 3.7 cases on Aug. 17, 7.4 cases on Aug. 24 and 13.4 Tuesday. This increase in case number is occurring, however, with a low number of students, faculty and staff submitting to testing. The 848 individuals tested on Tuesday comprise only a fraction — around just 20 percent — of the 4,225 of people tested Feb. 26.
Currently, only unvaccinated students are required to undergo weekly asymptomatic testing. Faculty, staff and vaccinated students can submit to voluntary asymptomatic testing during walk-in testing hours at the Student Activities Building Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
All University students were required to abide by a mandatory vaccination policy before returning to Grounds for the fall semester. Following the disenrollment of 238 students — or about one percent of the student population — after failure to meet the vaccine requirement, 96.6 percent of students are fully vaccinated, with the remaining 2.4 percent of students receiving documented medical or religious exemptions. Faculty and staff were encouraged, though not required, to be vaccinated as in-person classes returned with 92 percent of academic faculty vaccinated as of Aug. 16.
The University first implemented a masking requirement indoors for both vaccinated and unvaccinated community members Aug. 9. Under this policy, all individuals are required to wear masks indoors on University property — including academic and administrative buildings, libraries, labs, dining halls, IM Rec facilities and U.Va. Health locations.
As of Tuesday, there were 118 active cases in the University community, with 72 student cases and 46 faculty and staff cases. Forty four people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 at U.Va. Health with five admissions occurring Tuesday.
On Wednesday, 59 and 64 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, respectively.