RICHMOND, Va. -- On Monday, the CDC issued new guidance for fully-vaccinated people, loosening some of the mask recommendations.
The CDC said fully-vaccinated people are also no longer required to get tested or quarantine after potential exposure to the virus, unless they are exhibiting symptoms.
However, the CDC is still recommending that vaccinated individuals wear a mask in public or crowded spaces and to refrain from unnecessary travel.
Governor Ralph Northam echoed the CDC’s recommendations for remaining vigilant in public spaces.
“Our cases are going down and vaccinations are going up,” Northam said. “Until we can get all Virginians vaccinated we need to continue to follow the guidelines of wearing a mask, social distancing and keeping our hands washed.”
So far, more than 2.3 million doses of the COVID 19 vaccine have been distributed in Virginia, but even with an estimated 50,000 doses being administered in the Commonwealth daily, health experts said it could take until late spring or early summer before herd immunity is reached.
“Wearing a mask is still very prudent because we don’t have herd immunity out there and this is very important, there’s variants that we are still learning more about,” says VCU Epidemiologist Dr. Gonzalo Bearman.
Bearman says roughly 65% to 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated to accomplish herd immunity.
Nevertheless, Virginians like Alice Bates walked out of Monday’s mass vaccination clinic at Richmond Raceway Complex singing a happy tune. She's eager to eventually return to her choral group after a year in isolation.
Bates was among more than 2,000 people who received their COVID-19 vaccine at RIR on the same day that the CDC announced it was easing restrictions on mask wearing for fully vaccinated individuals.
“I just stay home by myself all the time,” Bates said, “So this is a big deal coming here.”
Other Virginians, like Marguerite Dockery, who also received her COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, said they’ll remain vigilant.
“I’m going to act as though I haven’t gotten the shot,” Dockery said. “I’m going to be the same until we’re definitely sure and safe.”