Letter to the Whitehead Institute Community from Director Ruth Lehmann (8/3/2021)

The following letter was sent to the Whitehead Institute community from Institute director Ruth Lehmann on August 3, 2021. 

Dear Members of the Whitehead Institute Community,

The Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country.  The City of Cambridge has reported a recent increase in infection including among those fully vaccinated and is urging residents, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks when indoors in public spaces. Last week, the CDC also revised its mask guidance to recommend that all individuals, both those who are vaccinated and those who are not, wear a mask indoors while in public in areas with a high or substantial risk of transmission. As of Monday, nine Massachusetts counties, including Middlesex County, were designated as areas of substantial or high risk by the CDC.

In light of these recent changes, and with your health and safety and that of your loved ones our number one goal, the following changes will be made to our COVID guidelines effective Wednesday August 4th. 

·       Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a surgical mask.

·       For vaccinated individuals, masks may be removed when eating, but you are encouraged to eat outside or physically distance when eating inside. The cafeteria seating area will continue to be open for use by fully vaccinated staff, with physical distancing. Food orders will continue to be taken through the online ordering system Clover from 11 AM – 3PM during the week for Institute staff only.

·       Unvaccinated individuals should wear masks at all times in the building and eat outside.


All those who are currently working remotely are encouraged to continue to do so. The return of administrative staff will be delayed to October 4th at the earliest. We are closely monitoring the situation and will provide more information closer to that time.

I strongly encourage those who are able to, but have not been vaccinated yet to make an appointment as soon as possible to receive the vaccine. As concerning new variants continue to emerge, vaccination is the single most effective way to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the most vulnerable in our community who may not be able to receive the vaccine. I also encourage our community to be vigilant in our activities outside of work, masking when with unvaccinated individuals or in crowded situations, as this provides the best protection for us and our loved ones.

Thank you again for supporting our efforts to keep the Whitehead Institute community safe and healthy.

Ruth Lehmann