Ohio University (OU) is reinstating an indoor mask mandate starting Aug. 1, The Columbus Dispatch reported. This makes OU the first public university in the state to reinstate a mask mandate after schools dropped such mandates in the spring.
The mandate is being reimplemented because Athens County has a high level of transmission on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest COVID-19 data tracker, according to the university's website.
The mandate will drop when COVID-19 transmission levels in the county drops to medium. Masks will be recommended during scheduled class and class-related activities when the level of transmission is medium and optional when the level of transmission is low in the county.
OU's classes begin Aug. 22.
The new BA.5 variant of COVID-19 is the most contagious yet. Ohio reported 29,876 new cases in the past week. Athens County specifically has a 319.33 case rate per 100,000 and 11 new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000.