Duke University introduced stricter COVID-19 restrictions after more than 300 undergraduate students tested positive in one week.
Between Aug. 23 and Aug. 29, 304 undergraduates, 45 graduate students, and 15 employees tested positive for COVID-19. Almost all of the people who tested positive are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the vast majority are asymptomatic, according to the Duke Chronicle.
A small number of the infected individuals have cold- and flu-like symptoms, but none have been hospitalized, the Chronicle reported.
The new restrictions include requiring masks indoors and outdoors, except when students are exercising alone, actively eating or drinking, or by themselves, according to an email Duke University administrators sent to undergraduates.
Duke also suspended indoor group seating in dining halls and switched to an entirely grab-and-go format with outdoor seating, the email read.
Gatherings of over 50 people are prohibited, and hosting larger or unmasked events will result in disciplinary action for hosts and possibly guests, according to the email.
Duke has a 98% vaccination rate within the student body and a 92% vaccination rate among employees. On Aug. 5, nearly 80% of Penn students enrolled in on-campus programs reported being fully vaccinated. Administrators wrote in an email to undergraduates that they expect vaccination rates to increase to 90% by September.
Despite being fully vaccinated, people can still contract COVID-19, but the disease's effects are less severe. Vaccinated individuals with breakthrough infections are very unlikely to require hospitalization or die, NBC10 Philadelphia reported.
The administrators wrote that there has been no evidence of transmission in classrooms and other campus locations where everyone is masked.
"We recognize fully that all students, like us, are eager to resume a more open and unencumbered approach to life on campus," the administrators wrote. "To get there, we have to listen to our experts in infectious disease, public health, and medicine and continue to heed their advice as part of that effort."
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