As the University of Southern Indiana prepares for an influx of students and faculty to begin the Fall Semester in a few weeks, administrators have announced they are reinstating their mask mandate for all individuals, both vaccinated and unvaccinated effective starting today (Wednesday, July 28th, 2021).

The University announced the decision on Tuesday afternoon after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated their mask guidelines to strongly recommend all individuals, even those who are fully vaccinated, return to wearing masks indoors in public indoor settings where COVID cases are either substantial or high.

According to a map on the CDC's website which tracks cases by county, every county in the Tri-State currently falls into the High category, with the exception of McClean County in Kentucky which is listed in the Moderate category as of this writing.

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The rise in cases is due to the Delta variant, a mutation of the original COVID-19 virus which has been shown to be a more easily transmissible form.

In their announcement, USI administrators said their decision to reinstate the mandate was based on the CDC's new recommendation and noted they had followed the Center's guidelines on a consistent basis since the pandemic began. The University also noted that in addition to reinstating the mask mandate until further notice, physical distancing of three feet or more will continue to be required as well.

As of this writing, USI has been the only university in the area to announce the reinstatement of a mask mandate. There has been no announcement from the University of Evansville, and Ivy Tech announced in a Facebook Live Q & A Tuesday afternoon that mask-wearing was "welcome and encouraged" if it makes students feel more comfortable in the classrooms, but did not outright say it was mandated. It should be noted the Q & A took place at 2:00 PM Central time, the same time the CDC began their press conference announcing the revised guidelines meaning it is possible the Ivy Tech administrator participating in the Q & A was unaware of the revision at the time. However, there has been no follow-up by Ivy Tech announcing a change to their mask policy since.

[Sources: USI / CDC / Ivy Tech on Facebook]

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While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

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