Welcome news from the CDC

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There has been an audible sigh of relief following the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement on Thursday that it was recommending eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people.

The move allows those two weeks past completion of their vaccinations to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools and other venues — even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

Although the CDC guidance has yet to be fully embraced and adopted by state and local officials, it is nonetheless welcome news — news that we hope will immediately reshape COVID policy, and guidance, in Albany.

Not only should Albany adopt the CDC’s guidance on masks, the measure should also spur state and local officials to move much faster on removing those roadblocks which prevent our older citizens from
much needed programs and services at senior centers, our youth from receiving in-person instruction each day in school, and our businesses from operating at full strength.

While there are many parts of the world struggling mightily with COVID-19, U.S. virus cases are at their lowest rate since September, deaths are at their lowest point since last April and the test positivity rate is at the lowest point since the pandemic began.

While we should not become complacent in our own efforts against the coronavirus, the CDC’s new guidelines show the success of the vaccination program as well as more refined medical treatment for those stricken with severe illness from COVID.

About 46% of Americans — approximately 154 million people — have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 117 million are fully vaccinated.

Locally, the percentages are higher with 48.1% of Oneida County adults, approximately 89,656 individuals, being fully vaccinated while 54.8% of county adults — or 102,141 individuals — having received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The vaccine has proven to be both safe and effective and, so far, are showing that they continue to work on various mutated versions of the virus.

Although the rate of new vaccinations has slowed in recent weeks, health officials say that with the authorization Wednesday of the Pfizer shot for children ages 12 to 15, a new burst of doses is expected in the coming days.

The more people continue to get vaccinated, the faster infections will drop — and the harder it will be for the virus to mutate enough to escape vaccines — and the faster we can enjoy not just the welcome warmth and sunshine of summer but the warmth of family, friends and community.

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