After almost a year of lockdowns, indoor occupancy restrictions, and mask mandates, large US cities are preparing for a major comeback this summer. New York City is set to reopen at full capacity by July 1st, including classrooms, businesses, and arenas. If hospitalization rates are low and vaccine supply is sufficient, California expects to reopen by June 15th. Washington, D.C. is set to reopen by June 11th.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a press statement with new recommendations for fully vaccinated people. The new guidance included visiting other fully vaccinated people without social distancing or wearing a mask and refraining from quarantining after being exposed to a COVID-positive person.
During last week’s Senate Health Committee hearing CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, “Just a few months ago, 85% of all counties in the US were experiencing high COVID-19 transmission rates…This morning, that is down to 33% of counties…These trends give me hope.”
Hopeful trends have also brought criticism and skepticism. Republican lawmakers expressed concern that promising people normalcy and not delivering on that reality has been disappointing and has led to spikes in cases. Despite optimism, health officials continue to encourage adults, and now youth ages 12 to 15, to take the vaccine as the best measure to continue the current positive trend.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Senate that, “Based on experience thus far in this country and globally, I feel confident that if we continue to vaccinate people at the rate that we’re doing that we will very soon have a situation where we will have so few infections in this country we will begin to return to the normality that all of us desire so much.”
If you are vaccinated and ready to take a step back into normalcy, remember that the habits and precautions that have been ingrained into everyone this past year are still healthy and helpful to continue. If you are around crowds of people indoors and are not sure whether or not people are vaccinated, it never hurts to wear a mask. If you are unsure, bring a mask and some sanitizer close by in your bag just in case.
Traveling domestically is considered safe, according to the CDC, but remember that germs are everywhere and even if COVID-19 is no longer a major concern, it can be helpful to prevent the common cold, especially as you embark on your summer vacation.