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Hopkins Brings Back Mask Mandate Amid Uptick In COVID-19 Cases

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Johns Hopkins University is bringing back its indoor mask mandate after dozens of students tested positive for COVID-19 after spring break.

The university sent an email to students Wednesday, saying that masks are now required in public spaces on campus after nearly 100 undergraduate students reported tested positive.

The school's decision comes as Maryland has seen a recent uptick in newly confirmed cases. The state Department of Health reported 491 new cases over the past 24 hours.

Despite the increase in infections, the statewide positivity rate is hovering just above 2% and the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 sits at 139, according to state data.

Students that WJZ spoke with on Thursday said they agree with the university's decision to reinstate the mask mandate.

"A lot of my friends have been in close contact with people that tested positive," student Kayla Robinson said.

"It's hard sometimes because we're all vaccinated and boosted," student Nick Hinke added. "You like to think that it just goes away, but it doesn't, and masking is an easy thing we can do to protect everyone."

Dr. Kinjal Sheth, chief of critical care for Northwest Hospital, said there is no cause for concern at the moment, even with the uptick in new cases.

"The thing that we're more concerned about is hospitalizations, death and all of those things," Dr. Sheth said. "Those metrics continue to go in a downward trajectory, which is great news."

Sheth said the spike we're seeing was expected with the new variants and because people are traveling for spring break.

"As long as you are not immunocompromised and don't have any other significant comorbidities, I think it's okay to go with the life you were normally living," Sheth said. "Every individual has to assess for themselves."

Besides Hopkins' mask mandate, students will also have to test two times a week until April 22. After that, the university will decide whether the precautions will continue.

"I'd love for it to go away," Hinke said. "Love for all of this to be over and just go back to normal life, but I guess the world is permanently changed in a lot of ways. We think totally differently about public health."

Sheth said getting vaccinated and boosted are the best way to keep hospitalizations and deaths at bay.

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