Even though the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. government declared an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency in May 2023, some colleges and companies in the United States have announced they will be reinstating mandates to force people to wear masks and get COVID shots as a condition of getting a college education or holding a job. This new policy is in response to the reported circulation of a new strain of SARS-COV-2 and a slight increase in hospitalizations associated with COVID cases across the country.1 2 3
On Aug. 20, 2023, Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia announced that it would reinstate its COVID mask mandate for two weeks as a result of positive cases at the Atlanta University Center. The mandate stipulates that all students and employees must be wearing face masks and comply with physical distancing, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation, body temperature checks and other efforts to reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus among the campus population.4
Students at Atlanta University Center’s had mix feelings about the new mask mandate. “I per se don’t want to wear a mask again,” said Daveon Parks, a student at the center.5
This announcement came after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing that, although hospital admissions for COVID increased by 12.5 percent nationwide, they remain significantly below levels reported during the peak of the pandemic.6
Sixty Colleges Still Require Students to Get COVID Shots
According to No College Mandates, a website formed by a group of parents, doctors, nurses, professors, students and other college stakeholders that tracks COVID related mandates on college campuses, there are over 60 universities that require students to be vaccinated for COVID in order to attend, including Harvard University, Rutgers University and Johns Hopkins University.7
Harvard University’s website states:
Harvard requires all students who will be on campus to have primary vaccination for COVID-19. As we work to continue the high levels of vaccination needed to protect our community, Harvard highly recommends being up-to-date per the CDC definition for all Harvard community members, including faculty, students, staff, and researchers, who will have any on-campus presence.8
New Jersey state Senator Declan O’Scanlon criticized Rutgers University ongoing COVID vaccine mandate, stating:
It’s baffling to see that from what should be a leading voice of science-based rationality, comes arbitrary garbage. We now know for an absolute fact that the COVID vaccine protects no one except the recipient of the vaccine. Broad-based policies like this should only be enacted with the goal of protecting individuals from someone else’s action or inaction. It’s not the job of Rutgers, or Governor Murphy, or anyone else to enact a policy to protect me from myself and my own decisions or from some perceived protection of my own self due to my own decisions.9
We are all very likely being exposed to COVID on a regular basis, in some form, just by virtue of interacting with people. It is extremely probable that no one who has been out and about in society in any way over the course of the last 3 years hasn’t been exposed to COVID—and doesn’t have some level of natural immunity. Evidence of how ludicrous this policy is just keeps piling on.10
Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation Reinstates Mask Mandate
Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation, a major Hollywood studio in California, has also reinstated its mask mandate for its employees on the third and fifth floor of it’s of the five-story building at the company’s flagship office in Santa Monica.11 Sommer McElroy, response manager for Lions Gate, said:
Employees must wear a medical grade face covering (surgical mask, KN95 or N95) when indoors except when alone in an office with the door closed, actively eating, actively drinking at their desk or workstation, or if they are the only individual present in a large open workspace.12
All employees are required to perform a self-screening before arriving at work every day and must notify the employer and remain at home if they exhibit any symptoms or have traveled internationally in the prior ten days. The company also said that it will provide at-home COVID tests and perform contact tracing.13
In response to reinstating mask mandates, Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation, MD stated:
It’s just a normal cycle of this respiratory virus that should not necessitate a return to widespread mask mandates. Anyone who is immune-compromised, or if you work with people who are immune-compromised, those are the people in appropriate settings [that] should consider wearing a high-quality mask, like an N-95, not a single layer of cloth or surgical mask. But to actually say, you know, to wear masks again in the house and just being in public spaces, we have to move on.14
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1 Camp E. Dozens of Colleges Still Require COVID Vaccines for Students. Reason Aug. 22, 2023.
2 McPhillips D. Covid-19 levels are rising but still relatively low in the US, surveillance data shows. CNN Aug. 16, 2023.
3 Neveau J. As new COVID strains spread in U.S., here’s what we know. NBC Chicago Aug. 27, 2023.
4 King M. Atlanta-based Morris Brown College says they are reinstating Covid mask mandates. CBS News Aug. 22, 2023.
5 Lifesy J, Ford B. Atlanta college reinstates mask mandate due to rise in on-campus COVID cases. Atlanta News First Aug. 22, 2023.
6 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID Data Tracker. Aug. 21. 2023.
7 Camp E. Dozens of Colleges Still Require COVID Vaccines for Students. Reason Aug. 22, 2023.
8 Harvard University. COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement.
9 Sivel C. O’Scalon: Rutgers Ongoing COVID Vaccine Mandate ‘Ludicrous’. NJ 13th Legislative District Aug. 18, 2023.
11 Steinbuch Y. Major movie studio brings back mask mandate amid spike in COVID-19 cases. New York Post Aug. 22, 2023.