Updated COVID-19 Guidance Recommends Masking Indoors

Latest UChicago Forward email reports increased number of new cases and close contacts from previous week.


By Sabrina Chang

The University announced in a UChicago Forward email sent on Wednesday, May 11 that it is now recommending that individuals wear a mask in indoor settings when other people are present. This message came after a rise in COVID-19 cases on campus and in the City of Chicago, where the Community Risk Level was changed to “medium” on May 6.   

“This updated recommendation is informed by the Chicago Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) recommendation to wear a mask in indoor public settings, as well as guidance from experts at the University of Chicago Medicine,” the email read.  

According to another UChicago Forward email sent on Friday, May 13, organizers of certain group events may request an exception to the University’s mask-optional policy, and requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. However, most convenings currently remain mask-recommended, according to the University’s Guidance on Non-Instructional Meetings. The email also mentioned that the Walker Museum testing site will only be open from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. on Friday, May 27 and will be closed on Monday, May 30 in observance of Memorial Day.  

UChicago reported 388 new COVID-19 cases and 346 close contacts between May 6 and May 12, according to the Friday, May 13, update. This is a significant increase from last week, when the University reported 268 new cases and 311 close contacts.  

Between May 5 and May 11, surveillance testing detected 41 new positive cases, resulting in a 6.09 percent positivity rate. Though the number of new positive cases detected is the same as last week, the positivity rate increased from 5.77 percent. There are currently 34 on-campus students in isolation and 122 off-campus students in isolation.  

According to Chicago’s citywide COVID-19 dashboard, the city’s seven-day positivity rate is currently at 5.5 percent, which is an increase from last week’s 4.4 percent. The city also experienced a 31 percent increase in average number of daily cases from last week.  

As always, the email encouraged individuals with potential COVID-19 symptoms to stay at home, follow the University’s exposure protocols, and get a COVID-19 test even if symptoms are mild and the individual is fully vaccinated and boosted. Since more individuals are using home tests, the University emphasized the importance of reporting positive cases to C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu.