DES MOINES, Iowa – When will life return to normal?
A question, no doubt, many have asked as the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out, and more Americans are taking the vaccine after experiencing a year of social distancing, masks, and lockdowns due to the novel coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website states, “If you are fully vaccinated (two weeks after both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine), you can start doing many things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”
“Outdoor visits and activities are safer than indoor activities, and fully vaccinated people can participate in some indoor events safely, without much risk,” they add.
The CDC states that vaccinated people can:
- Gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.
- Gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks or staying 6 feet apart, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- Gather or conduct activities outdoors without wearing a mask except in certain crowded settings and venues. (It’s unclear what those certain crowded settings and venues are.)
Jeff Zients, the coordinator of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 task force, was asked last week during a press briefing Biden and First Lady Jill Biden continue to wear masks, even outdoors, though both have been vaccinated.
“This morning we saw the first lady outdoors wearing a mask, even though she’s vaccinated. The president yesterday said he would need to wear a mask if he was sitting close to someone indoors– even if they’re both vaccinated– which goes against CDC guidance. And so, given that the president focused on modeling the best public health advice when masks were required, why isn’t he doing more to show the country what you can do once you are vaccinated?” the reporter asked.
Zients replied, “Getting Americans vaccinated is the most effective tool as we– that we have against COVID. And we’ll continue to follow the CDC science-based guidance on travel and other matters.”
Zients asked if Dr. Rochelle Wolensky, with the CDC, had anything to add, she didn’t.
During a press call on Friday morning with U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, The Iowa Torch asked the congresswoman if she thought the president’s behavior discourages people from being vaccinated.
“Well, obviously, I myself got vaccinated because I am hopeful that by getting vaccinated I can resume some sort of normal life and not wear a mask everywhere,” she said.
Hinson recently received her second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. She tested positive for COVID-19 back in November.
“I think we need to follow the science, we need to absolutely, but I also want to make sure there isn’t undue influence on the science by politicians,” she stated. “My perspective, I agree, that I think people who get vaccinated want to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and life will return to normal. Being able to exercise outdoors without wearing a mask on gather in groups of people who’ve also been vaccinated. I think it’s important.”
Hinson emphasized that vaccine passports are not the direction the country should head in and commended the Iowa Legislature for passing and Gov. Kim Reynolds’ willingness to sign a bill prohibiting state and local government agencies from requiring them.
“We need to be able to move forward and we want to encourage people to get vaccinated. And I think that knowing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel is very important for people as well,” she added.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, 2,467,782 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been given, and approximately one in three Iowans are fully vaccinated (1,162,521).
During her press conference on Wednesday, Reynolds said that 86 percent of the doses received in Iowa had been administered, ranking Iowa 5th in the nation in vaccine distribution and administration. She said that more than 46 percent of Iowans eligible to be vaccinated are fully vaccinated, putting Iowa in 13th place nationally.