Across the country, schools, businesses and organizations are grappling with whether to demand masks indoors again, as Delta-variant infections once again increase COVID-19 cases, including here in Pennsylvania.
The reassessment of mask policies comes after the CDC announced last week that it was recommending that vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks in public spaces and indoors in areas where transmission of the virus is high or high.
This week brought a new round of mask announcements, with Penn State among the biggest. Here are details of some of the places where people are required or encouraged to wear face coverings indoors.
Readers are encouraged to check with stores or other institutions before visiting – and keeping a mask handy will, of course, save time when in doubt.
Penn State announced Wednesday that students, employees and faculty on all campuses – including Penn State Hazleton and Penn State Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County – will be required to wear masks indoors regardless of their condition. vaccination status.
“Penn State is taking this proactive step to protect the health and safety of our campuses and help mitigate the spread of this virus within our community,” Penn State President Eric J. Barron said in a statement Wednesday evening. .
A statement issued by Penn State Hazleton confirmed the new guidelines and added that the masking requirement would remain in effect for at least a week, or for a week after Alfalfa County returns to moderate (yellow) transmission. of COVID-19.
“Pennsylvania is experiencing an acceleration in the number of COVID-19 cases statewide, and as of August 4, Penn State Hazleton is in a substantial (orange) transmission area,” the statement said.
âThe University will require that all vaccinated and unvaccinated people – faculty, staff, students and visitors – at Penn State Hazleton wear masks indoors, including in classrooms, boardrooms and at all times. inner event. “
The new guidelines will take effect starting at 8 a.m. this morning and will cover all Penn State campuses except the College of Medicine, which already has its own requirements in place.
All activities on campus will continue as planned with the new masking guidelines in place, and the guidelines will not affect or change the return-to-work process for faculty and staff.
The university said in the statement that all Penn State employees and students are “strongly encouraged” to get immunized and to share their immunization status with the school.
The Rochester, NY-based chain, which has stores in Lucerne and Lackawanna counties, tweeted the following tips on Tuesday: immunization status, wear a mask when shopping with us. All employees are now required to wear a mask in our stores. “
The coffee and donut chain requires all guests to wear face coverings in its restaurants starting today. âAt Dunkin ‘, we already require all restaurant employees to wear face masks and have updated our health and safety standards to reflect the times,â a tweet said.
Starbucks “strongly recommends that customers wear face coverings when visiting our stores, regardless of their immunization status,” its website says. Additionally, as of today, all company-operated store partners are required, regardless of their immunization status, to wear face coverings during their shift.
As of Monday, The Home Depot began requiring that “all associates, contractors and salespeople wear a mask indoors in all stores, distribution centers, offices and customers’ homes or businesses, regardless of vaccination status.” .
“We will ask customers to wear masks in our stores and will continue to offer masks to those who do not have them,” added a press release.
Retailer Target “continues to recommend face coverings for team members and unvaccinated guests in all stores nationwide,” a statement said Tuesday. âBased on updated CDC guidelines, we require face coverings for our team members and strongly recommend face coverings for all guests in areas at substantial or high risk of transmission, as defined by the CDC. We will follow all local mandates, as we have done throughout the pandemic, and will continue to closely monitor CDC guidance. “
NASCAR is adjusting its health protocols as cases of COVID-19 increase across the country.
As of this weekend’s events at Watkins Glen International in New York City, all staff are required to wear face masks in closed areas at all times, regardless of immunization status. Closed areas include dump trucks and buildings, washrooms, infield care center, race control, and suites.
NASCAR said the update to its protocols was being implemented on the advice of its medical consultants and recently released medical advice. Masks will not be required outdoors at NASCAR events, provided individuals refrain from any sustained close contact.