UT extends mask edict as virus cases, hospitalizations rise
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The University of Tennessee on Monday announced that it will extend its mask mandate to all indoor public spaces due to the ongoing spike in coronavirus cases and increasing hospitalizations.
UT had been under a temporary mask mandate that only applied to classrooms, laboratories and indoor academic student events. Officials say the new requirement will extend to all indoor public spaces, but exceptions will include private offices, residence hall rooms and while engaging in fitness activities.
According to a news release, the university will “re-evaluate the need for the expanded face-covering requirement by Sept. 7.”
“While we are trying to do our part to keep our campuses healthy, we continue to stress the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine,” UT System President Randy Boyd said in a statement.
As of Monday, Tennessee has seen 13,135 COVID-19 related deaths to date, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins. That death count is the 15th highest in the country overall and the 24th highest per capita at 194 deaths per 100,000 people.
The state is averaging 2,508.3 current COVID-19 hospitalizations according to data through August 20 from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic