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University Of Minnesota Faculty Push For Vaccine Requirement

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) - A group of professors and staff at the University of Minnesota are calling on the school to require COVID-19 vaccinations this fall, as the virus begins to surge again in the state.

The Associated Press reported more than 500 people signing a letter supporting a vaccine mandate. The University of Minnesota chapter of the American Association of University Professors said in a statement Thursday that there is "broad frustration and deep anger among faculty at Twin Cities that has been building over the summer about the unsafe reopening policies put forward by the administration."

The university is among a handful of colleges in the Big Ten that are not requiring COVID-19 vaccinations. Minnesota State Colleges and Universities is also not requiring the vaccine at its schools. Vaccines are being required at nearly a dozen private colleges in the state.

The university implemented a mask mandate at its five campuses this week, but it doesn't plan to enforce social distancing or require routine COVID-19 testing for students.

According to AP, university leaders have said a vaccination mandate would be difficult to enforce because Minnesota's immunization law has an exemption for people who hold beliefs against it. Administrators have also said a mandate could be "legally problematic" since the vaccines were authorized for emergency use but do not yet have full FDA approval.

On Thursday, Minnesota health officials reported five new deaths from COVID-19 and 878 new cases. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows the rolling average number of daily new cases in Minnesota has increased by 408 over the last two weeks — that's an increase of 177.5%.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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