Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's decision to relax mask guidelines, health experts who believe officials acted too early say they are looking more realistically at July.
What You Need To Know
- The Biden administration is working to get 70% of the country at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the Fourth of July
- Vaccinating children and teens is vital to reaching that goal, experts say
- Health officials worry that the relaxed mask rules could lead to a spike in cases before July 4
The Biden administration is aiming to have at least 70% of the country get one dose by Independence day.
Experts say there are two key factors we should stay in line with to reach that goal.
One is to vaccinate children who are eligible and people in their late teens and twenties.
The other is to avoid a major spike between now and the Fourth of July.
The new CDC guidance is giving vaccinated people a pass to take off the mask.
For Jess Malberti, this taste of pre-pandemic life is pretty sweet.
“I’m vaccinated so I’m pretty comfortable going out and doing stuff," she said. "I still kind of want to take the precaution of wearing a mask or something like that if I don’t really know if people have been traveling or not. But for the most part I’m pretty comfortable going out doing things.”
She’s ready to ring in the holiday with her husband’s family in a way she missed out on last year.
“They all usually rent rooms at this little hotel in St. Pete Beach, and his sister is from New Orleans … and she does a crawfish boil right on the beach," said Malberti.
Infectious Disease Specialist Michael Muszynski said to stay on track toward the Fourth of July goal, groups should stay outside if they're mixing vaccinated and unvaccinated people on Memorial Day.
He also stressed vaccinating children who are eligible.
“They’re not totally immune from bad things happening to them," said Muszynski. "And we have no idea if they’re going to get long hauler syndrome down the line. We don’t know. Who wants to risk that?”
He says all in all, it’s about keeping the end of the pandemic in sight.
“With the increasing number of vaccines, we can see the goal line in sight as we run down the field to try to score the touchdown that will win the game against COVID," he said. "So let’s not spike the ball on the 5 yard line. Let’s spike it in the endzone. Let’s get it done.”
Since Malberti is already vaccinated, she’s keeping her eye on the prize.
“I mean it’s kind of surreal, especially considering last year," she said. "I think we spent the Fourth of July just reading on our patio, and watching some fireworks that the neighbors were kind enough to put off."
The Biden administration’s goal of 70% of the American population translates to nearly 230 million people. The CDC says there are currently 158 million people with at least 1 dose of the vaccine.
Some local leaders have already cancelled major firework shows and gatherings ahead of the CDC decision to relax masks for the vaccinated.
That includes Altamonte Springs' Red Hot and Boom, which annually attracts hundreds of thousands of people to Cranes Roost Park.