UW-Madison announced Tuesday a new mask requirement for indoor buildings for students, employees and visitors, marking a turn from their previous policy that encouraged, but did not require, facial coverings for those unvaccinated.
Wearing a facial covering will now be enforced indoors throughout the UW-Madison campus, except when actively eating or drinking, in an office or lab alone with the door closed, or in private rooms in residence halls.
The previous policy, released in June, rescinded the campus mask requirement. Pre-pandemic guidelines for building access and campus spaces would have been effective Monday, Aug. 9.
However, due to concerns over the infectious Delta variant of COVID-19, the new policy will be effective starting Thursday, Aug. 5, regardless of vaccination status.
A July study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights that vaccinated individuals can spread the Delta variant and infect both vaccinated and unvaccinated people at similar rates.
According to Public Health Madison and Dane County, as of Aug. 3, 70.4% of Dane County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. However, the past two weeks have seen a 111.3% increase in COVID-19 positive cases. The university expects that 80% or more of students will be vaccinated for the fall semester, including over 90% of incoming freshmen living in the residence halls.
Those who are unvaccinated and living in the residence halls will continue to test weekly as announced in June. Changes to the current testing policy have not been announced.