AUSTIN, Texas - The latest CDC guidelines show a turning point in the pandemic.
"I think it signals we are starting to get back to a bit more normalcy," said Chris Van Deusen, spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The new guidelines say if you are vaccinated you can:
- Gather indoors with others who are fully vaccinated
- Gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household, without masks (unless someone in the room or someone you live with has an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19)
- If you've been around someone who has COVID-19, you don't need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms
"I think it really shows what we will be looking at as more and more people get vaccinated over the coming weeks and next few months. We can start to have those gatherings again. It doesn't necessarily have to be restricted to people in your family," said Van Deusen.
But there are things that haven't changed. You still need to avoid gathering with others from more than one household. Avoid large gatherings, and delay travel.
The news comes as Texas works to get shots into arms. There is also a new vaccine in the arsenal. "About 4.4 million, a little closer to 4.4 had at least one dose, and 2.4 million are fully vaccinated," said Van Deusen.
For the past few months, the focus of vaccination efforts has been on those in the 1a and 1b groups. That includes senior citizens, healthcare workers, and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
But Austin Public Health has said this new group may include essential workers.
"When people in those particular groups were getting fully vaccinated, the number of hospitalizations has been dropping, the number of deaths has been dropping as well. That has been something that is very important to the members of the expert vaccine allocation panel. I would expect that to factor into their recommendation for the next priority group as well," said Van Deusen.
As the state works to vaccinate more people, the CDC's new guidelines suggest that the vaccine's efficacy is looking promising.