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‘This is good news. This is a big development’: State leaders react to new CDC guidelines

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 9:29 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - For a year now, COVID-19 has been a part of our regular vocabulary. So have phrases like social distancing. But as vaccines are going into arms, the nation’s top health officials say those who have gotten fully vaccinated can gather with others who have been vaccinated, and don’t have to wear a mask at these gatherings.

“This is good news. This is a big development,” Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said.

It is a development that is a step toward normalcy after a year of changes and restrictions to save lives. But Kentucky’s Public Health Commissioner says this doesn’t mean victory has been declared yet.

“A real concern I think most public health professionals have is if people misinterpret this as we don’t have to pay attention to the virus, and we don’t have to do our masking and social distancing, that would be a mistake. If we do that we run the risk of supercharging the pandemic,” Dr. Stack said.

Lexington emergency physician Dr. Ryan Stanton says masks are still the best defense for those not vaccinated, but once we reach a comfortable number, masks will be a thing of the past.

“We still have a lot of people who aren’t vaccinated and these strains that are out there that are a bit more virulent and easier to catch and we want to take it easy,” Dr. Stanton said.

Here in Kentucky, 25% of adults have received a COVID-19 vaccine. So now the question is when could we see more local restrictions be lifted as more shots go into arms?

“As cases step down, we will step down on the restriction side. We will do this thoughtfully, and we will do it in steps. Again, I don’t think you just rip off the band-aid, which you’ve seen in Texas and in Mississippi,” Gov. Andy Beshear said.

The CDC’s travel guidelines have remained the same, but Dr. Stanton says he believes that the finish line for travel and normalcy is just a few months away.

“I realistically see mid-2021 is when for the most part we can put this chapter behind us. There will still be changes, there will still be things that will continue but I think at that point we can refocus on the rest of our lives as opposed to COVID that’s hijacked us for over a year now,” Dr. Stanton said.

Two more cases of the United Kingdom variant of the virus have been detected in Kentucky, including one case in Fayette County. The other was reported in Jefferson County.

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