June 17: Indoor masking requirement lifted at Hazleton, Schuylkill, Wilkes-Barre

Effective Friday, June 17, and in alignment with CDC guidance, indoor masking is no longer required at Hazleton, Schuylkill, Wilkes-Barre; no counties home to Penn State campuses currently have high COVID-19 Community Levels

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Based on public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indoor masking will no longer be required at Penn State Hazleton, Schuylkill and Wilkes-Barre, effective Friday, June 17, due to decreasing COVID-19 Community Levels in the counties where these campuses are located. Individuals who wish to continue wearing face masks on any Penn State campus are encouraged to do so.

The CDC tracks COVID-19 Community Levels on a county-by-county basis and advises that masks be worn indoors in counties with high COVID-19 Community Levels.

The CDC’s county-by-county COVID-19 Community Levels are a “tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data.” Levels can be low (green), medium (yellow) or high (orange), and are based on the number of new COVID-19 cases in each county as well as new hospital admissions and hospital capacity. 

  • Green counties: CDC recommendations call for individuals to stay up-to-date on their vaccinations and to get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • Yellow counties: The recommendations advise those who are at high risk for severe illness to talk to their healthcare provider about their individual need to wear a face mask. 
  • Orange counties: CDC recommends all individuals wear a mask indoors. 

The status of each county is updated on the CDC website on Thursdays. When a county home to a Penn State campus moves from yellow or green to orange or vice versa, the campus will communicate with students, faculty and staff with any change in masking requirements.

The CDC is a science-driven public health organization that has specifically defined federal regulatory authority as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The CDC also provides recommendations for state and local governments as well as organizations, which typically guide requirements. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Penn State has been aligning its COVID-19 mitigation actions with the public health recommendations provided by the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health. The country is still under a national public health emergency as declared by the Department of Health and Human Services.