After more than a year of social distancing and mask-wearing requirements it was absolutely huge news when the CDC announced new guidelines saying that people who have received a COVID-19 vaccine no longer need to wear a mask or practice social distancing, in most situations.
The news came on the same day city of Milwaukee officials said they would lift occupancy and gathering-size limits for businesses and events. Those limits forced the cancellation of many events and have been devastating for many businesses, especially bars and restaurants. The elimination of COVID restrictions will provide a much-needed boost to the economy.
Progress has been made in the fight against COVID. The CDC’s announcement came after more than 117 million Americans, or about 35% of the population, had been fully vaccinated.
The seven-day average for the number of new COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin fell from 808 on April 15 to 437 on May 16. And that’s way down from the peak of the virus in Wisconsin, Nov. 18, when the seven-day average of new cases was 6,563 per day.
It’s clear the vaccines work and are slowing the spread of COVID-19. CDC director Rochelle Walensky said the vaccines have proven to be effective at preventing people from getting the virus, and vaccinated individuals that do get the virus are likely to have a less severe case and are less likely to transmit it to others. The vaccines have also been proven to be effective against COVID variants, she said.
While it’s great news that vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks or socially distance, it’s incredibly important to remember this pandemic is not over. The devasting impact it’s having in India is proof.
Vaccine hesitancy remains a problem. We still need a lot more individuals to get the vaccine to reach 70% to 80% of the total population and achieve herd immunity, otherwise the risk of the virus continuing to circulate, mutate and flare up will continue.
Hopefully the CDC’s new recommendations will serve as motivation for more people to get their COVID shots. The CDC had been criticized for being too cautious about its guidance. Indeed, people need an incentive to get the vaccine, otherwise what’s the point? Those who are doing our part to protect ourselves and our community deserve the right to get life back to normal.
Those who continue to avoid the vaccine are putting themselves at risk, but that’s on them. There has been plenty of opportunity to get it. All Wisconsinites, 16 years old or older have been able to get a COVID vaccine since April 5. And now, anyone between 12 and 15 can get the Pfizer vaccine.
More good news: BizTimes Media will resume live events with the Family & Closely Held Business Summit on June 29. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of virtual events and Zoom calls. It’s time to get together again in person. Hope to see you there!