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Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. (Photo by Taber Andrew Bain/Creative Commons)

No Mask Mandate at Liberty University as COVID-19 Spreads

By Sarah Einselen

A small but growing outbreak of COVID-19 at Liberty University has pushed the Baptist campus to move on-campus classes online, but masks remain an option — not a requirement — for most students and employees.

Liberty announced a two-week “temporary mitigation period” beginning next Monday in response to increased COVID-19 case counts on campus. A total of 63 new cases among students and employees were reported Aug. 23 and 24, the most recent data available on Liberty’s COVID-19 dashboard. All told, there were 159 known active cases among students, faculty and staff as of Wednesday, according to the university’s online COVID-19 dashboard. Of those cases, 124 cases were among students.

That’s a sharp increase from last week when 40 students and staff tested positive as students were welcomed back to campus. It also surpasses the highest confirmed active caseload last September, when at least 141 people on campus tested positive and nearly 1,200 people were quarantined.

The Roys Report reached out to Liberty spokesman Scott Lamb, but an automated email indicated he’s out on medical leave this week. A voicemail left with the university’s marketing department wasn’t immediately returned.

In a press release, Keith Anderson, executive director of Liberty’s Student Health Center and Wellness Initiatives, said the university understood “the severity of the pandemic and the desire to act swiftly” in response. (Multiple former Liberty employees accused Anderson of sexual harassment in a recent lawsuit, The Roys Report previously reported.)

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“We are taking the necessary steps and actions to lighten the burden to our medical service providers, the local hospital resources, and to do our part to keep our community safe,” Anderson said in the release.

A representative of the nearest major hospital, Centra Health in Lynchburg, told local TV station WSLS 10 News this week the pandemic had pushed hospitalizations past full capacity. The hospital had 72 patients left waiting for hours in its emergency department Monday evening because it didn’t have any open beds. About 70 patients were already hospitalized with COVID-19.

During the mitigation period, which runs through Sept. 10, Liberty is moving all classes online and suspending large indoor gatherings, according to its COVID-19 response page. Students who test positive are being told to quarantine off campus. The university is also offering takeout and expanding outdoor seating at its food court. And some Liberty employees will be allowed to work remotely.

Social distancing and wearing a mask are also encouraged during the mitigation period, but not required in most cases. (Unvaccinated dining hall employees must wear a face covering.) Liberty also announced it would host some free COVID-19 vaccination clinics on campus.

Liberty’s general COVID-19 guidance advises students the virus is spread through close contact and airborne droplets from sneezing and coughing — though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states smaller particles a person breathes out can also carry the virus.

The CDC also recommends both masks and vaccination to keep COVID-19 at bay. But the university doesn’t include either in its list of “best ways to prevent COVID-19,” which includes hand and surface hygiene, avoiding close contact with sick people, covering sneezes and coughs, eating healthy and getting enough sleep.

Another Baptist university, Cedarville University in Ohio, implemented a mask mandate this week among other temporary measures in response to rising COVID-19 case counts. About 7% of residential students had tested positive for the coronavirus, and hundreds more were likely quarantined because of close contact with someone who had tested positive, The Roys Report noted Thursday.

So far, Liberty’s outbreak isn’t reported to be as widespread as the outbreak at Cedarville.

As of Wednesday, less than 1% of its campus population had an active COVID-19 case, its dashboard showed. A total of 274 residential students, 111 commuters and 107 employees were under instructions to quarantine. But the campus population is huge: The school had about 15,000 residential students enrolled last school year, the Lynchburg (Virginia) News & Advance reported this spring, and welcomed what’s expected to be its largest incoming class in history this fall. Some 5,000 faculty and staff work there, too.

It’s unclear how many Liberty students or employees are vaccinated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.

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20 thoughts on “No Mask Mandate at Liberty University as COVID-19 Spreads”

    1. Yeah, let’s fill up those hospitals and let people die. That’s a great way to love our neighbors. Just like Jesus would.

    2. “Good”? 650,000 American deaths aren’t enough for you? You couldn’t pay me to send my children to that school! What arrogance!

      1. Yeah they did it before too ! Unfortunately for the alarmist agenda, they had very few cases of Covid.

        With respect to the “ 650,000 deaths from Covid “. In 2020 no flu deaths reported, not one. That should tell you something. Normally it’s around 60,000 annually but in 2020 ZERO REPORTED. Also many, many reports of deaths being recorded as Covid so the hospital can get the federal government subsidies for each death. I have a friend whose wife is an ER nurse . She witnessed a kid from a motorcycle accident flatline. His brain was exposed and a good section of his skull crushed. They called it a Covid death and when she objected, she was screamed at by hospital administrators. Covid is real, but greatly exaggerated.

        1. First of all, plenty of people died of the flu in 2020 — the CDC estimates 24,000 people died from the flu in the 2019-20 flu season, a majority of who died between Jan and Apr 2020. The 2020-21 flu season was (thankfully) a dud because (a) everyone was taking precautions against Covid-19, and (b) Covid-19 is far more virulent and prevalent than the flu, so anyone exposing themselves to viruses was catching Covid-19, not the seasonal flu. Flu season never got off the ground.

          Also, the myth that hospitals were reporting deaths as Covid-19 was been debunked many times. No hospital admins would risk committing widespread fraud. If caught, they would end up with years in jail, and the doctors have no incentive to lie when the hospitals are filled to overflowing with Covid-19 cases. A single third hand report doesn’t cut it when there are thousands of first hand reports of the horrendous situation in hospitals across the south being posted on social media every week by nurses and doctors on the front line of this pandemic.

          Here is a chart of the number of American who have died every year between 2000 and 2019:

          https://www.prb.org/usdata/indicator/deaths/chart/

          There’s a steady rise in the numbers over the last decade, probably because of the fact that boomers are starting to die off, but the number for 2020 is 3,350,000 — a massive jump of 500,000 over 2019. That’s the carnage Covid-19 has wrought, and continues to cause as the unvaccinated keep putting themselves in harm’s way.

          Covid-19 is real, and has killed hundreds of thousand of Americans, and is likely to continue to do so if people continue to put their own desires ahead of their community’s needs (church, schools, neighborhoods, or otherwise).

      2. Let’s make sure we consider the mortality profile of this disease: any old aged, infirm, immune-compromised, unfit, low Vit. D people at Liberty?

        The ‘unfit’ and ‘low Vit D can be fixed easily, the rest, protect yourselves.

  1. Since there is absolutely no scientific evidence that masks have done anything to stop the spread of COVID-19, I’m glad for schools that are giving students the freedom to make their own decisions.

  2. With what we know about COVID by now, any institution that omits masks and vaccination from its list of “best ways to prevent COVID-19” has surely sacrificed reason, truth, and love of neighbors on the altar of the false gods of political partisanship and conspiracy theories.

    1. Al H,

      “… any institution that omits masks and vaccination from its list of “best ways to prevent COVID-19” has surely sacrificed reason, truth, …”

      Have you ever worked in a hospital? If so have you ever worked under isolation conditions or someone suspected of having a highly contagious disease?

      The only “mask” that prevents catching/spreading of any virus, is a full self contained isolation helmet/suit, with independent O2 source, and filter.

      If we were to truly attempt to stop all transmission in institutions, then all staff/visitors would be required to wear one of these suits and go through decontamination procedures when leaving the building.

  3. Gilberto Contreras

    Good. A virus that has a 95% – 99% survivability rate depending on age – no healthy person should be forced to wear a mask. Those that are immune compromised it would be good to wear an M95 or better.

    Good for Liberty. Don’t succumb to the fear.

    REMEMBER: it’s not the cases of virus that’s important, it’s the death rate. Even then, those that have comorbidity should take precautions.

    **NO MORE LOCKDOWNS**

    1. With that ludicrous logic, why not

      send the football team into their games without helmets or pads! I’m sure the “death rate” would be minimal. Why should they FEAR brain injury or broken bone?

      1. Tom P,

        What a ludicrous comparison of possible sport trauma based injury/death, to disease based death survival rates.

        Helmets and pads do not prevent broken bones or brain injury in football.

        Gilberto C posted the fact that (depending on the country and age) the survival rate is very high. Your response was to compare the survival rate with football players not wearing equipment, in a sport they choose to participate in. To what point?

  4. Truth is that the few studies on masks have shown ar best limited protection against the spread of COVID. Cloth masks are worthless. They have become a virtue signal with no basis in science. I am a nurse who cares for COVID patients and am amazed at the “new standards for masks.”

    The news never fails to cover COVID spread in conservative or Christian communities while overlooking it in leftist gatherings. Those horrible Evangelicals are at it again.

    1. You know, the standards being set by those horrible “leftists” are very low — two safe and free shots of a vaccine, and wearing a mask (KN-95 or KF-95 are very effective compared with cloth) while out in public indoors.

      That’s all. Why is it so hard? Just about every day I am hearing of another conservative voice dying from Covid-19 because they chose not to get vaccinated. It’s unreal.

  5. Working in a K-12 school, I can tell you how incredibly divisive the mask issue can be. Our school is mask optional, which fits with the most families. Our policy clearly calls for an environment of mutual respect between mask and non mask wearers. Our Covid rates are low, and there are not clear differences between mask wearers and non mask wearers and getting Covid. Any Covid positive students have usually contracted it outside of school, not within school. We, and Ohio in general, are currently experiencing a lot of non Covid respiratory illnesses among young children, and tests are showing negative for Covid.

    It is true that media paint a bleaker picture than reality regarding spread of Covid. The Ohio Covid Dashboard indicates that the majority of inpatient, ICU, and Vent patients are not Covid. I do not know what other states show.

    So, if Liberty feels mask optional is best, fine with me. The distancing and sanitation may be more effective anyway, since most people do not wear masks properly.

    By the way, a true N95 mask is a type of respirator, requiring proper fitting, and a test of the cardiovascular system to ensure it can stand the extra load of breathing through an N95.

    1. Thank you for your reasoned response. My 98 year old mother was advised to get vaxed. My early 60s brother and wife were advised by their doctor not to get vaxed. All three got Covid. They all three survived the experience without hospitalization – though uncomfortable for the time.

  6. I’m sad to see so many Christians bowing down to the Covid cult. The Covid cult repeats all the same tired emotional and subjective arguments, such as, “give up your liberty, subject your families to tyranny, suffering, and lies, and hand over your churches to state destruction because you could infect someone with Covid and they could die unless you do exactly as you are told.” Now, the same people who are telling us to worship Fauci and journalists (who somehow are more credible in the Covid cult’s eyes than thousands of medical scientists and doctors who dissent from the mainstream propaganda) tell us that man is a disease and should be culled, that man evolved from monkeys, that man is destroying the earth’s environment by prospering, that five-year olds should be given the choice to mutilate and chemically destroy their bodies, that perversion is love, and on and on. Literally every belief these people hold is in direct opposition to God’s Word. Not only this, they have been wrong about the virus, their strategies, and the vaccines at every step. We know the Covid numbers are totally unreliable and have been widely inflated through widespread false-positive tests and counting people who did not die from Covid as Covid deaths. These facts have been thoroughly documented. So please stop citing numbers that don’t mean anything.

    What we do know is that the virus is not very serious. It is like an aggressive flu. That’s not ideal, but it’s reality–a reality man has accepted throughout history as he recognizes we live under a curse. Humanistic attempts to escape the curse have always led to exacerbated effects. Thus, we caused much more death and suffering through lockdowns and they did absolutely zero to slow or stop the virus. We caused worse health conditions by masking people–something that the only randomized controlled study on mask efficacy has verified. And now we are breaking every medical standard regarding vaccines to force people to be injected with something that has mounting evidence showing serious risks while the establishment coordinates to suppress and punish anyone who questions their narrative.

    Honestly, at this point–if any Christian (someone who is supposed to have God’s Word and the mind of Christ to guide them) is still bowing down to the Covid cult, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell them.

    Are people really this gullible?

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