Loyola announced masks will be required in all public spaces and buildings on every campus for the time being, regardless of vaccine status. The announcement said Loyola plans to continue updating the policy based on current public health data.
The new policy, which was announced in a July 30 email, comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance instructing fully vaccinated people to wear a mask in areas of high transmission.
In an email to The Phoenix, Loyola spokesperson Anna Shymanski Zach said masks will be required for everyone in any indoor public setting and will be required outdoors for any unvaccinated students, faculty and visitors.
As for the residence halls, Shymanski Zach said that students will be required to wear masks in the elevators, hallways, kitchens and any other common areas but won’t be required in any individual dorm rooms.
Following the updated guidance from the CDC, both the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) updated their guidance due to increasing rates of COVID-19 transmission and the rise of the Delta variant in the area.
Internal CDC documents obtained by The Washington Post show the Delta variant is very contagious, and likely more severe than previous strains. The documents state the Delta variant appears to be more contagious than smallpox and polio.
Dr. Allison Arwardy, head of CDPH, said the vaccine is still effective at reducing COVID-19 infections, including those caused by the Delta variant. During a recent livestream, Arwardy said 99.9% of vaccinated Chicagoans have not been infected, 99.99% have not gone into the hospital and 99.999% have not died.
The CDC, CCDPH and CDPH all still strongly recommend anyone 12 and older get vaccinated against COVID-19, as the virus now appears to be affecting young adults more than other groups. Currently In Chicago, daily cases are up 38 percent from 208 to 286 based on a seven day rolling average as of Aug. 7 with a plurality of the cases coming from those aged 18-29, according to CDPH.
Young people remain the least vaccinated of any adults with only about 60% having one dose while only 52% have received a complete vaccine series.
Loyola is requiring all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall, The Phoenix reported.
As of Aug. 6, about 73% of Illinois residents older than 12 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, while in Chicago about 59% of residents have received at least one dose, according to CDPH as of Aug. 5.