Written, edited, and reviewed by members of KAMP student radio
This Week in Science
Written by: Ash Arleen Avilla
Published: March 18, 2022
Changes to Mask Guidelines at the University of Arizona
On February 25th, 2022 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its
COVID-19 guidelines and stated that masks may no longer be necessary in U.S counties
with medium to low transmission rates. This is guidance that the University of Arizona is
taking to heart. On March 17, 2022, the University of Arizona announced that masks will be
recommended, but no longer necessary in indoor spaces as of Monday, March 21st
(University of Arizona). This does not extend onto CatTran shuttles, however, which are
following Transportation Security Administration directives. At the time of the briefing, 80.7%
of Pima County residents had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
It's important to be wary of what metrics are being considered when governing bodies, like
the CDC, make these recommendations, especially since these recommendations may be in
a constant state of flux. For example, an early CDC recommendation advised masking in
schools no matter the level of COVID 19 impact (CDC Transcript). Earlier this month,
however, the CDC began to recommend masking in school only within communities with a
"high" level of COVID-19.
The CDC measures these covid risk levels using the following three metrics: new
COVID-19 hospital admission per 100,000 people in the past 7 days, the percent of staffed
inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and the total new COVID-19 cases per
100,000 population in the past 7 days (CDC.gov). Pima is currently at a low level of COVID
risk, and is seeing 77.92 cases per 100K people, 5.4 hospital admissions per 100k people,
and 3% of occupied hospital beds as of March 17, 2022 according to data calculated from
the prior week.
With these changes in risk levels, administrators across the United States have been
reconsidering their mask mandates, but it may be a premature change. Masks work by
blocking the particles that transmit COVID-19. The virus is 0.1 µm in diameter and can
transfer on droplets and aerosols, most of which are 1-10 µm in diameter. When a person
breathes, talks, sneezes, or coughs, particles are exhaled either as visible droplets or
microscopic aerosols. Viruses, such as COVID-19, can catch on to those particles and
spread. Droplets are pulled to the ground by gravity fairly quickly, but can spread if they land
nearby on a person's eyes, nose or mouth. Aerosols can stay in the air for minutes to hours
depending on the ventilation of the room (Nature.com).
Scientists, such as Mercedes Carnethon, professor of epidemiology and vice chair of
the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University, say that "it's premature in
many regions of the country to consider lifting these mask mandates… certain conditions
need to be met in order for those lifting of mask mandates to make sense and continue to
protect our school populations." In addition, an open letter signed by around 400 different
health professionals urged elected officials to reevaluate the end of school mask mandates
With the changes in the mask mandate at the University of Arizona, President Robbins
stated, "I encourage individuals who are at higher risk of serious illness or who live with
people in high-risk groups to continue to wear a surgical mask or higher-grade mask around
others to limit their exposure to the virus." While well-intentioned, this statement may not help
properly protect students and faculty members who are at higher risk of COVID-19,
especially since one-way masking is much less effective than when all parties are masked
(Slate.com). Members of the University of Arizona who are at higher risk of illness can
contact the Disability Resource Center (Disability Resource Center) for more information.
This Week in Culture/Arts
Written by: Rhiannon S. Cox
Published: March 18, 2022
The Loft Cinema Features Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films
The 94th Academy Awards Ceremony will take place next Sunday on March 27th. In preparation for the show, The Loft Cinema is showing the short films nominated for the prestigious awards. The films are divided into the categories of Live Action, Animated, and Documentary Short Films. This Saturday at noon, the nominees for Best Animated Short Film will be screened. These include Robin Robin, Boxballet, Affairs of the Art, The Windshield Wiper, and Bestia. An additional showing of the animated shorts will take place the following week on March 26th at noon.
In addition to screening the movies The Loft will also be providing an “Oscar Shorts Prediction” ballot for guests to guess which film they believe will receive the award next Sunday. Guests who guess correctly will be entered for a chance to win free passes to The Loft!
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