Dear Colleagues,

Due to an increased number of COVID-19 cases on the MBL campus and Barnstable County’s COVID-19 Community Level increasing to “high” transmission within the last few days, the MBL is recommending that individuals wear a mask in indoor campus settings when others are present. The CDC mask guidance for counties in the high category is to wear a mask indoors in public spaces. We remind all staff to be courteous to each other and respect individual choices made around masking.

Principal investigators and managers throughout the organization should assess resilience/redundancy concerns within their operations. The goal is to avoid having an entire lab or group become infected thereby affecting the work of that group.

Currently, masks are required at the MBL in all instructional settings (classrooms and teaching laboratories) and at all indoor public events. In addition, we will now require masks to be worn in the Swope serving area (i.e., the area where food is picked up and ordered). You will have observed that our SODEXO colleagues are masked to minimize the risk that they will be infected while serving food as they are uniquely exposed several times a day to most of the people on campus. The serving area also tends to get crowded when conferences, courses and Whitman investigators are present on campus.

As a reminder, anyone who has been determined to be a close contact of a COVID-19 positive individual will be required to wear a mask at all times indoors for ten days per MBL exposure guidelines. Those who are symptomatic, or test positive must remain off campus for a minimum of six days. Return to campus criteria and requirements for mask wearing are included in the exposure criteria and will also be communicated to the individual.

Neither the state nor the town of Falmouth have reinstated a mask requirement, and this new guidance is a recommendation at this time, not a mandate. However, as part of our efforts to help prevent further increases in cases, we ask you to follow this extra precaution in shared indoor settings. This is particularly important as the campus population is about to increase substantially with the arrival of Advanced Research Training Courses and Whitman investigators.

Barnstable County’s COVID-19 case rate remains lower than during the Omicron peak in early January, and while hospitalizations are growing, they also remain lower than the first peak. Nevertheless, overall testing numbers may miss some cases because individuals increasingly are using home tests and may not report the results to the state. It is vital that members of the MBL community continue to report new cases to the Human Resources Department per our guidelines if you test positive.

Finally, it is a good idea to have a mask on you at all times as guidance may continue to evolve in response to the current state of the pandemic.

Paul SpeerChief Operating Officer