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Tulane reinstates indoor mask mandate after additional omicron cases detected

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Albert Herring
/
Tulane Public Relations

Tulane University will require everyone on its campus to mask up through the end of the year, after its surveillance testing program detected multiple cases of the omicron variant, officials announced Friday.

The university reported its first omicron case on Monday. Officials said in an email that new probable cases had been identified since then but did not share an exact number.

Tulane is one of few entities in the city and the state with the ability to sequence the omicron variant and is therefore “more likely to detect its presence,” officials said.

“While we are closely monitoring the number of omicron cases on campus, it is important to remember that the high frequency of our asymptomatic testing means that we are able to detect many COVID-19 cases that would otherwise go unnoticed,” an email signed by senior school officials said.

Tulane requires students and staff to get tested for COVID regularly. After announcing its first omicron case, the university said it would begin testing a larger number of people daily to make sure individuals are tested every 7-10 days.

The university’s active case count jumped this week according to its online dashboard, which reported 1 new case on Monday, 13 new cases on Tuesday, 37 new cases on Wednesday and 23 new cases on Thursday.

Tulane is tracking 88 active cases overall and prior to this week was averaging just one or two new cases a day.

Nearly 97% of Tulane students and staff are vaccinated and booster shots are available through the university’s vaccine clinic.

“Please note that our vaccine supply is limited,” officials said. “If you have trouble getting an appointment at one of the university’s clinics, remember that many local pharmacies and hospitals also provide free boosters.”

The university is also encouraging students and staff to move all non-essential gatherings where food and drinks are served outdoors to help increase mask use indoors.

Aubri Juhasz is the education reporter for New Orleans Public Radio. Before coming to New Orleans, she was a producer for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. She helped lead the show's technology and book coverage and reported her own feature stories, including the surge in cycling deaths in New York City and the decision by some states to offer competitive video gaming to high school students as an extracurricular activity.

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