COVID-19 Response weekly update: Oct. 18

COVID-19 response weekly update

Dear colleagues,

We’ve heard some questions this past week about one aspect of our recent change to the face mask policy – specifically, the provision that masks are required indoors only for gatherings of more than 10 people. I’m writing today to clarify not so much the policy as the general idea behind it.

We can’t write rules that will apply to every circumstance you’ll encounter on campus. And we can’t codify common sense. But here’s the basic message: It’s not about the total number of people in a defined and enclosed space, but rather your proximity to others. If you’re within a few feet of 10 or more people for more than a couple of minutes, wear a mask to protect yourself and others.

We set the limit at 10 people because if one of them later tests positive for COVID-19, it limits the number of others who could be exposed, as well as the number of people contact tracers must track down and notify.

When you’re on campus – or anywhere else, for that matter – use your best judgment on when to wear a mask. You should always carry a mask with you, and err on the side of caution anytime you’re in a situation where you’re wondering whether you should wear it.

Alcohol. This week we will be removing, or easing, COVID-19 policies related to alcohol for undergraduate residential colleges, Willy’s Pub and Valhalla.

Testing Results. Over the past seven days, we’ve run about 5,700 tests for the SARS-CoV-2 virus through Rice testing and there were 8 positive results for a positivity rate of 0.14%. The testing dashboard can be found on the COVID-19 website.

Kevin E. Kirby

Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee

Vice President for Administration