CDC says fully vaccinated people can gather and take masks off

SPOKANE, Wash. — COVID-19 cases in the United States have been higher than most places in the world. However, there is some welcome news.

This week, cases have dropped 12.5% and our seven-day daily average is less than 60,000 for the first time since October. Officials from the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) say it won’t be until sometime in May or June that we’ll have more vaccine doses than are in demand.

In the meantime, they stress we gradually lift restrictions and keep the masks on.

“Lifting restrictions, especially on mask-wearing, is at this point absolutely premature, ridiculous,” said WSHA President, Cassie Sauer.

Sauer had scathing criticism of states like Texas, Mississippi and now Wyoming for lifting most restrictions including mask mandates.

Today, the CDC said those that have been fully vaccinated can gather indoors without masks and no social distancing — something that has been one reason why many inside Pullman Regional Hospital have been getting vaccinated.

“When we heard that news from the CDC today, already we had managers saying ‘Okay, so we don’t have to mask anymore,’ and we are not letting up on that,” said Pullman Regional’s Chief Nursing Officer, Jeannie Eylar.

Eight miles east of Pullman is Moscow, Idaho — where restrictions are much looser, making it easy for people to cross state lines and transmit the virus. However, the COVID-19 numbers haven’t been as bad as some feared it would be.

“All of their restaurants are open so it makes it very easy and convenient for people to go over there. Moscow is really good, they have done a lot of masking,” said Eylar.

Since the middle of January, the hospital has been getting their staff immunized with the goal of getting 75% fully vaccinated. Many staff members weren’t going to get it, but after hearing the stories of others in the building, they came around to it.

“Direct caregivers saw the pain and suffering of patients who were here in the hospital,” said Eylar, “couldn’t see their families and the impact that had on them and their choice to get vaccinated.”

Doctors say to wait two weeks after receiving your final vaccination before you start gathering with others.