To the Case Western Reserve Community:
We write today to announce that all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to campus must wear masks indoors starting tomorrow (Wednesday, Aug. 4).
As much as we regret the need to resume a health and safety protocol that ended barely a month ago, climbing case counts in Cuyahoga County make this step the only responsible one for our community.
Over the last seven days, the county’s positive cases per 100,000 residents increased by more than a third over the previous week—moving it into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “substantial transmission” category. Four of the six counties contiguous to Cuyahoga also are in this category, which is the second-most severe of the CDC’s four levels.
The CDC recommends that people in areas with substantial or high transmission levels wear masks in public indoor settings (i.e., those not within your own residence). The CDC previously advised that masks should be worn outdoors if 6 feet of physical distance cannot be maintained. As with our previous mask requirement, those who are alone in enclosed indoor spaces may remove their masks.
As disappointing as the recent data is, we also see signs that people in Ohio and the country increasingly recognize the urgency of being vaccinated. On Friday, for example, our state logged 14,826 doses—a figure not seen since late June. And vaccinations nationally have been growing significantly over the past three weeks; yesterday the seven-day average of newly vaccinated people in the U.S. hit its highest level since July 4.
Finally, a full 92 percent of you have complied with the university’s vaccine verification policy as of this morning—an increase of six percentage points since last Tuesday. This ongoing progress demonstrates our community’s commitment to keeping the campus safe; it also gives us great hope that this mask requirement will be able to be relatively brief.
As always, we will closely monitor COVID-19 developments and public health guidance, and will update you promptly regarding protocols—in particular prior to first-year move-in and the start of the semester.
We thank you for your patience, perseverance and, most of all, for protecting yourself, your family, and our community.
Eric W. Kaler
Ben Vinson III