One year after the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic changed our lives, signs of normalcy are emerging. Although it is far too soon to declare the health crisis over, recent developments are promising.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced his intention to make all Americans eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1. With Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson creating mass quantities of doses, public confidence is growing. And as the number of vaccinated people increases, the quality of daily life improves.
On March 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced relaxed safety protocols pursuant to the vaccines. According to the new guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals can gather indoors without wearing masks provided they are interacting with others who have completed the vaccination process. Additionally, fully vaccinated individuals exposed to the coronavirus no longer have to self-quarantine unless they exhibit viral symptoms.
But despite these encouragements, there have been few grounds for optimism in Pennsylvania. Since vaccines became widely available, the commonwealth has ranked near the bottom of distribution nationwide. However, current trends suggest the state is finally making headway.
In a press release issued on March 18, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf touted the strides made locally.
“The pace of vaccinations in Pennsylvania is accelerating each day. We have made tremendous progress and today rank at or above the U.S. average for both first doses and those fully vaccinated,” Wolf said.
Wolf supported his claim by citing federal reporting.
“An analysis of CDC data on the number of vaccines administered per 100,000 of population over the past week (through March 17), puts Pennsylvania second in the nation behind only New Mexico. And, while these numbers fluctuate daily, this indicator demonstrates the state’s significant progress on vaccinating everyone who wishes to be vaccinated,” he said.
This positive news has many in the state preparing for better days. Here on campus, Shippensburg University’s plans for the fall semester include expanded in-person class meetings and a return to standard residency requirements.
While there is some light at the end of the tunnel, we must remain vigilant. Until most citizens are vaccinated, health risks remain. Wearing masks is not fun but it is effective at slowing the spread of the virus. In order to enjoy the fall season, we must continue practicing mitigation measures. We have come too far to let up now.