LUBBOCK, Texas–A return to normal might just be around the corner for Lubbock. The CDC released new COVID-19 guidelines on Thursday saying those who have been fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask indoor or outdoor.
“It is a very sharp and rapid turnabout from what the CDC has said in the past,” said Dr. Steven Berk, Dean of the Texas Tech Health Science Center and Infectious Disease Physician.
But there are a few exceptions. Some of those include vaccinated people who are still asked to wear masks on public transport or where the law requires them to.
“So many more people are getting vaccinated. The numbers of cases were going down so fast and most importantly the vaccine was being shown to be so incredibly effective that most physicians, most infectious disease physicians, felt like these new guidelines were imminent,” said Berk.
The guidelines said that those who are vaccinated also no longer need to be socially distant, and they can resume travel without testing before and after traveling or self quarantining.
And if a vaccinated person is exposed to COVID-19 they don’t need to get tested then either.
“I’m looking forward to spending time with my friends and going to the grocery store in those types of places without a mask on,” said Director of the City of Lubbock Health Department Katherine Wells.
Health officials praised the COVID-19 vaccine for its effectiveness against variants and hospitalizations. Furthermore, they said this is a huge step towards a return to normal.
“Science has really saved us from the point of view of the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Berk.
Currently around 38% of Lubbock’s population has been vaccinated but around 70% is needed to reach total herd immunity.
“We are falling behind here in Lubbock. We need to get more people vaccinated. You know this isn’t over just because we are saying no masks if you are vaccinated. We are seeing fewer cases but we don’t want to see the uptick,” said Wells.
But health officials hope these new guidelines encourage those who are still hesitant to get the vaccine.
“With these CDC guidelines it’s pretty clear how much science is trusting this vaccine,” said Berk.
The CDC also recommends that folks who are vaccinated but immunocompromised check with their doctors before getting rid of their masks.
As for those who still need to be vaccinated can get vaccinated at either the health department, their doctor’s office or their local pharmacy.