While Penn has not yet announced plans to lift its indoor mask mandate, the campus-wide COVID-19 positivity rate and case count remained stable for the week leading up to spring break.
After Philadelphia Health officials lifted the city’s indoor mask mandate on March 2, Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé told The Daily Pennsylvanian on March 3 that the University was working in conjunction with the City of Philadelphia to determine how the guidance applies.
Dubé said that Penn “needs to make sure the consensus guidance for our campus is in the best interests for our community,” adding that it is crucial to find a middle ground before updating the University’s public health guidance.
He also said that the numbers used by the City of Philadelphia to make public health decisions do not always mirror the data within the Penn community specifically.
“Once masks come off, they might have to come back on again,” Dubé said. “We have to brace for that possibility as well.”
A total of 91 Penn community members tested positive for COVID-19 from Feb. 27 to March 5 — down two cases from the week before. Undergraduate students comprised 24 of the new cases, which was a new semester low — down from 30 during the week from Feb. 20 to Feb. 26.
The campus-wide positivity rate also remained low at 1.28%, marking the fourth consecutive week that it was between one and two percent. Undergraduates experienced the lowest positivity rate — 0.93% — of all campus populations, dropping below one percent for the first time since the fall semester.
Philadelphia's recent move to the “All Clear” COVID-19 precautions tier reversed the requirement for all individuals to wear a mask indoors. Exceptions were made for the “higher risk” settings of schools, healthcare institutions, congregate settings, and public transportation.
In a March 1 email, Penn administrators updated its safety guidelines and wrote that community members who do not upload COVID-19 booster vaccine information by March 14 or are not yet booster-eligible will be required to undergo screening testing through Penn Cares twice each week.