UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Face masks are now required to be worn indoors on eight Penn State campuses, in accordance with public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that advises that masks be worn in counties with high COVID-19 Community Levels.
Masks are required indoors at Penn State Abington, Behrend, Brandywine, Great Valley, Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, and Wilkes-Barre because they are located in counties with high COVID-19 Community Levels. Face masks are also required to be worn indoors at Penn State Scranton as Lackawanna County has recently gone from high to medium COVID-19 Community Levels. Campuses in a county that transitions from high to medium or low COVID-19 levels must continue masking for one week after the transition in case there is a rebound to high status the following week.
Additionally, at this time, the College of Medicine continues to require masks indoors in alignment with Penn State Health to support patient care.
The CDC’a county-by-county COVID-19 Community Levels are “a new tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data.” Levels can be low (green), medium (yellow) or high (orange), and are based on the number of new COVID-19 cases in each county as well as new hospital admissions and hospital capacity.
- Green counties: CDC recommendations call for individuals to stay up-to-date on their vaccinations and to get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Yellow counties: The recommendations advise those who are at high risk for severe illness to talk to their healthcare provider about their individual need to wear a face mask.
- Orange counties: CDC recommends all individuals wear a mask indoors.
“As this sixth wave of COVID-19 spreads across Pennsylvania, it is likely that we will see more campuses move to require masking as their home counties move from yellow or green to orange,” said Kelly Wolgast, director of the University’s COVID-19 Operations Control Center. “We continue to encourage our community to stay up to date on their vaccinations as the best way to avoid a serious case of COVID-19 and to stay home and get tested if you are experiencing symptoms.”
Currently, 23 counties in Pennsylvania are in orange status and 17 are in yellow.
The status of each county is updated on the CDC website on Thursdays. When a county home to a Penn State campus moves from yellow to orange or vice versa, the campus will communicate with students, faculty and staff when the change in masking policy will take effect.