N.C. State University will soon require masks in all indoor spaces on campus, regardless of one’s vaccination status.
The university said Friday that face coverings will be required beginning Monday. Masks are not currently required for vaccinated individuals.
The news comes as hospitalizations from the virus have more than doubled this month, and are likely to keep rising in the coming weeks, The News & Observer reported. The more contagious delta variant is a growing concern for those in North Carolina, experts have said.
Some private universities in the state, like Duke, have made vaccines mandatory for all students except those exempted for religious or medical reasons. Public universities have stopped short of such requirements, citing a “lack of clear legal authority,” The N&O reported.
Students, faculty, staff and visitors will only be exempt from the mask requirement when alone in a private room with the door closed, when in an enclosed space with only household members present and when actively eating or drinking.
Face coverings will continue to be required on Wolfline buses, the university added.
All students living in university-owned buildings who are not vaccinated will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of their move-in appointment. The university will begin “weekly surveillance testing” in mid-August of all unvaccinated individuals who live in university housing, or participate in on-campus classes or activities.
The university provides free testing for all students, faculty and staff members, and highly encourages its affiliates to get vaccinated.
North Carolina lifted its statewide mask mandate in May. At a press conference Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper did not reinstate it, but urged those who are not vaccinated to get the shot.
“As you will see, after months of low numbers, our trends have turned sharply in the wrong direction,” Cooper said. “I want to be clear about why: Unvaccinated people are driving this resurgence and getting themselves and other people sick.”
As of Friday, 61% of adults in the state were partially vaccinated against the virus, while 57% were fully protected, according to data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. That’s lower than in the U.S. as a whole, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 69.6% of adults are partially vaccinated and 60.4% are fully protected.