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Pima County residents, experts respond to new CDC guidance for fully vaccinated people

Updated: Mar. 8, 2021 at 10:34 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Monday brought long-awaited news for many Americans. Fully vaccinated people have been given the green light to gather without masks or physical distancing in specific settings.

The new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is refreshing for those who have been separated from loved ones for more than a year.

“I’m looking forward to breathing easier,” said Evelyn Smith. “[I decided to get the vaccine] so hopefully I don’t get COVID-19 and to help the population be well protected.”

Smith says she can’t wait to visit her father and other relatives. Under the new federal guidelines, hugs may be a possible after she gets her second dose.

“People need to touch and to be able to see and communicate with those facial signs [like] smiles,” Smith said.

According to the CDC, those who are fully vaccinated:

  • Can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Can visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at a “low risk” for the virus without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Don’t need to test or quarantine if they are exposed to a COVID-positive person

After the announcement, many took to social media to voice their opinions.

New COVID-19 guidance says fully vaccinated grandparents can now visit with their grandkids and others at a low-risk of contracting the virus.

Posted by KOLD News 13 on Monday, March 8, 2021

“It is a long time coming, we have been at this for a year now,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, a distinguished professor at the University of Arizona and former U.S. Surgeon General. “People are COVID exhausted.”

However, Dr. Carmona is reminding the public that the new guidance does not mean it’s time to ditch mask wearing entirely. He urges everyone to continue to err on the side of caution, especially since those who are vaccinated may still be able to transmit the virus.

“Anytime you are uncertain of the vaccine status or the disease status of the people around you, wear a mask,” said Dr. Carmona. “Keep six feet away, wash your hands.”

He says some headway has been made as Pima County nears 120,000 fully vaccinated individuals.

As for Smith, she looks forward to the day she no longer needs to don a mask. Until then, she plans to do her part.

“I’ll feel more protected, yes,” she said. “If it’s a crowd, I might still choose to wear the mask.”

The Pima County Health Department (PCHD) is also weighing in. A spokesperson released the following statement:

“The current CDC guidance doesn’t say fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks and following other aspects of layered mitigation. The level of precautions should be determined by the characteristics of unvaccinated people, who remain unprotected against COVID-19.

Fully vaccinated people can visit indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing with other fully-vaccinated people or with unvaccinated people from a single household who have a low risk for severe effects of COVID-19.

However, even if someone has been fully vaccinated they should continue to wear a well-fitted mask and keep six feet from others and avoid crowds in public and when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who live with someone who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease.”

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.