It has been more than two years since the first COVID-19 outbreaks in Wuhan, China. People’s activities have been restricted, interpersonal interaction has been reduced and people in countries around the world have been required to wear masks. Mask requirements have been lifted in many areas in the U.S., and according to a March 1 press release from the office of N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper, the state will drop its mask mandate for state agencies and facilities on March 7.
On Feb. 17, Guilford County Commissioners and the Guilford County Board of Health eliminated the countywide mask mandate due to a dramatic drop in coronavirus cases. This has affected the mask rules in many facilities. For example, students and staff at Guilford County Schools can now choose for themselves whether or not to wear a mask. Also, as reported by the News and Record, some theaters, businesses and other venues in the area are changing or reviewing their policies on masks.
The Carolina Theatre in downtown Greensboro recently changed its COVID-19 guidelines by no longer requiring proof of vaccination or negative test results. However, Tanger Center is keeping its current mask requirement for audience members in place through at least March 6.
Last week, Guilford got PCR test results from 56 students and got positive results from two students. That number is 1.6% higher than the previous week’s results.
Regarding the booster shot, at last week’s on-campus booster clinic, they gave 56 booster shots for students. At this time, the Guilford campus’s vaccination rate is over 98%.
Right now, Guilford College’s infection rate is low, so many people are free from COVID-19, but the College’s mask mandate is still in place.
According to Susan Smith, administrative assistant for counseling and coordinator of student health, Guilford College has not yet lifted its guard against COVID-19.
“While Guilford County and other entities have changed their mask mandate, the College’s mask mandate remains in effect,” she said in an email interview.
“The Health and Safety Task Force is monitoring how the relaxing of mask mandates may impact COVID infections around us; we are also planning for a full campus COVID testing when we return from spring break (Monday and Tuesday, March 14th and 15th). Depending on these results the Task Force will consider the status of masking. Any recommendations made by the Task Force then go to the Cabinet for their consideration.”
Guilford senior Madison Sugg said the College’s mask mandate has more benefits than drawbacks.
“The requirement to wear masks is a very small sacrifice for the college to open and operate as normal,” he said. “If the possibility of a major risk exists, it should be avoided.”
Christopher Howard, a Guilford sophomore, spoke about how his experiences with wearing masks have changed.
He said, “At my part-time job, I used to have to use a mask, but now I don’t need to anymore; I think that once the number of COVID-19 cases decreases, the situation will be the same (in other places), but until then, I think I need to keep wearing a mask.”
Smith said that “the pandemic situation continues to improve with great strides made just in the past couple of months. Being that so many people are now fully vaccinated (with the booster shot), we are seeing fewer and fewer cases here at Guilford. Those that have tested positive experienced mild symptoms, at most.”
“We are very fortunate that our campus enjoys a vaccination rate of over 98%,” she said. “We still have some work to do gathering all the information from those who have not yet submitted their booster vaccination record but we are moving very close to meeting our requirement that the community is ‘boosted’ by the end of this month.
“I think COVID-19 is here to stay, but it will be a lesser illness, similar to the flu,” Smith continued. “We are moving from a pandemic to an endemic phase whereas the thought is that between vaccination and natural infection, it will not be as transmittable and the symptoms will continue to weaken.”
Smith said this about where the Guilford community stands with the coronavirus: “Our situation with COVID is much improved! We are fortunate to be in this fully vaccinated community, some call it a ‘bubble’. We have worked hard, utilizing all the tools available to us to stay healthy and thankfully, have been able to move forward so that students can have a meaningful Guilford experience.”