The Johns Hopkins University is reinstating temporary COVID-19 mitigation measures after almost 100 undergraduates tested positive for the virus within the past six days.
Kevin Shollenberger, Hopkins’ vice provost for student health and well-being, announced the university is responding to the spike in cases by testing all undergraduate students twice per week from now until April 22. Testing might be extended following evaluation.
Masking will be temporarily required in common areas of residence and dining halls, adding to the already existing mask mandate in Hopkins’ classrooms.
Students living on campus who need to isolate due to COVID exposure will be asked to quarantine in their rooms or relocate to off-campus isolation housing. Those who are asked to quarantine will have meals and other items delivered to their doors.
Self-testing kits will be available for students living on campus. Additionally, Hopkins will provide free, high-quality masks at university testing sites, Shollenberger wrote in his announcement.
“We want to assure you that we are taking these precautions so that other students in the university’s residence hall buildings are not put at risk,” the announcement reads.
The jump in cases was reported to the university following spring break, which was held March 21 to 27. COVID cases and exposures linked to travel were split between residential and non-residential students, according to Shollenberger. Many cases are asymptomatic. Those with symptoms experienced mild illness.
Cases as a whole have been on the rise in Baltimore. From March 24 through April 6, Baltimore City reported a roughly 36% increase in the seven-day average for new cases, translating to an average of 47.4 new cases each day over a week-long period. The test positivity rate ticked up slightly to 1.2%, but hospitalizations and deaths are down more than 30% each.
Other Baltimore universities vary in their pandemic mitigation measures, but many no longer require strict masking across campus.
Coppin State University moved to optional masking March 7. The University of Maryland, Baltimore requires all those aged 2 and older to wear medical-grade masks in health care areas and on UMB transportation; elsewhere, students, staff and faculty have the option to wear masks at will. Loyola University has optional masking, and proof of vaccination is not required to attend.