For more than a year, everyone has been waiting for life to return to some greater sense of normalcy.
In-person visits with loved ones, moving beyond self-isolations and pulling off those dreadful masks are activities we’ve all longed for during the novel coronavirus pandemic. As social beings, this period of isolation has not been good for us emotionally.
The federal government recently offered some welcome news to Americans.
On April 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised safety guidelines. The agency said that people who are fully vaccinated don’t need to wear masks outside unless they’re a part of a large crowd. And on Thursday, the CDC declared that fully vaccinated individuals can resume regular activities both indoors and outdoors except when mandated by specific regulations.
To clarify, fully vaccinated people are those who have received their proper doses (two shots for the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, and one shot for the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine). They also must have waited at least two weeks for immunity to kick in.
The CDC declared: “If you’ve been fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic. You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. If you travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.”
Many Americans who have grown tired of living under a pandemic regime will embrace these new rules. In a free society, it feels good to have more control over what you can do.
But the CDC guidelines contain two important caveats.
Everyone, including those fully vaccinated, still must adhere to regulations established by governing authorities — state and local laws on mask wearing and social distancing must be obeyed.
And businesses retain the right to determine proper rules within their establishments. In addition, the CDC said these guidelines may be altered if infection rates worsen.
“New York state’s mask mandate will remain in effect as state health officials review new federal guidance to allow vaccinated people to ditch face coverings under most conditions,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said late Thursday. The statement came shortly after the CDC on Thursday recommended fully vaccinated Americans can discard masks and the need for social distancing outdoors and in most indoors settings,” according to a story published Thursday by lohud.com, part of the USA Today Network.
While guidelines have been revised, continuing to practice safety measures makes sense. Fully vaccinated people have a very low risk of developing any symptoms of COVID-19 if exposed to the coronavirus. But they can still become infected, which means they may pass the virus on to other people.
For example, eight members of the New York Yankees baseball organization recently tested positive for the coronavirus even though they were vaccinated. And comedian Bill Maher announced Thursday that he tested positive for the coronavirus despite his being vaccinated.
The most important task we need to work on is getting as many people immunized as possible. A study conducted by Jefferson Community College and Syracuse University showed that about 24% of adults in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties have some hesitancy about being vaccinated, according to a story published Wednesday in the Watertown Daily Times.
This is an alarming statistic, and we need to do more to change their minds. Increasing the number of vaccinated people will reduce the need for government and business restrictions.
Whether or not we’re vaccinated, we all need to live responsibly. Understanding how our actions affect others is critical in a free society.
Becoming vaccinated and adhering to safety protocols is the most reasonable course for the near future. So don’t put the masks away just yet — they’re still going to come in handy.