On July 29, the University of New Mexico reinstated mask mandates for all individuals regardless of vaccination status effective Aug. 2. Masks will be required indoors for everyone at locations on the UNM Albuquerque, Taos and Valencia campuses, as well as the regional site in Sandoval County.

The shift in policy — which had previously allowed fully vaccinated individuals to forgo mask-wearing — was spurred by recent spikes in COVID-19 cases across the country. The CDC recommends that “masks be worn in counties with a 7-day average community transmission of more than 7 new cases per 100,000 persons,” according to an academic dispatch from the Office of the Provost sent on July 29. UNM sites at Gallup and Los Alamos are exempt from this mask policy because McKinley County and Los Alamos County are below those lines, “owing to strong vaccination rates.”

“UNM continues to watch the evolving public health recommendations and the growing body of scientific knowledge of SARS-CoV-2, in order to decrease the prevalence of COVID in our community while still delivering on our mission of learning and discovery,” the dispatch said.

This policy announcement comes alongside recent CDC guidance that fully vaccinated individuals should wear a mask indoors “if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission” to minimize the spread of the delta variant. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham tweeted on July 27 to encourage New Mexicans to follow these recommendations as well.

The dispatch said the policy will be “revisited as we continue to watch the relevant data on disease progression, including community transmission, test positivity rates and rates of spread.”

UNM continues to encourage students and faculty to get vaccinated and enroll in their incentive program. According to the dispatch, about 81% of employees outside the health system and over 56% of students are currently fully vaccinated.

Emma Trevino is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @itsemmatr