TRENTON, N.J. – Rutgers University should repeal its unrealistic Covid mandates as other higher education institutions drop them and the federal public health emergency sunsets May 11, Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer says.
The university issued updated guidelines March 17 that still requires students, staff, contractors and others to provide proof of vaccination. Students and most staff with medical or religious exemptions will no longer have to self-test for the virus. However, the university will still make available up to two test kits per student per week while supplies last.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports that after the Omicron peak in January 2022, daily reported Covid cases are down 92%; deaths have declined 80%; and new hospitalizations are down more than 80%. Following that news, the Food and Drug Administration on April 18 amended its emergency use authorizations for bivalent mRNA shots, limiting most individuals to one dose with no follow-up boosters. Those shots, originally developed to combat the original and omicron BA.4/BA.5 strains, offer no protection against today’s prominent strains, BQ1 and BQ1.1, according to a January 2023 New England Journal of Medicine correspondence.
“After all, the shot has no benefit against current virus and only confers risk. Even ivy leagues like Penn and Princeton, and state schools such as University of Maryland, are withdrawing their mandates one by one,” Sawyer (R-Gloucester) noted.
Studies have shown the shots may pose net harm to otherwise healthy young adults, especially men. Specifically, the risks of developing myocarditis or pericarditis far outweighed any risk of students succumbing to Covid. The argument that the mRNA technology prevented transmission, and therefore students were protecting immunocompromised peers or at-risk staff, ultimately proved false.
Rutgers moved to remote instruction on March 17, 2020 and resumed on-campus learning at the end of January 2022. The university imposed mandatory masking in classrooms that spring semester. That mandate was lifted for fall 2022 but briefly reimposed when three faculty unions argued that individual educators should be allowed to require masks in their classrooms. Ultimately, the Public Employee Relations Commission rejected those unions’ arguments.
“There is too much information out there now, in not only our peer-reviewed medical literature but also finally trickling out of the mainstream media, that blows apart the narrative that any of these mitigations did much but harm the public and destroy trust in our institutions,” Sawyer added. “If Rutgers wants to hold onto its stellar reputation as a first-rate institution, its Board of Governors needs to embrace reality and drop the mandates. We’re doing fine in the real world without them now.”