End of an Era: Returning to normalcy at close of the pandemic

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A woman removes her mask as mandates are being lifted. Those who have been vaccinated are no longer required to wear masks.

Jenna Jordan, Opinion Editor

For the past 14 months, our lives have been defined by masking up, Zoom calls, staying at home and experiencing a healthy dose of alone time with pets. However, with new guidelines released by the CDC on May 13, the speedy spreading of the vaccination and death rates going down every day, it’s looking as though that reality is coming to a close.

These new guidelines have the largest impact on those who have already been vaccinated. According to cdc.gov, people who have been fully vaccinated “can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.” People can return to work, kids can return to school and everyone can get back to fully appreciating everything they enjoy. North Carolina is now one of 28 states that have fully reopened, with seven more expected to open this month. Despite this exciting news, it is still recommended that everyone wears masks when around people who have not been vaccinated and when in indoor public places.

Vaccine distribution across the U.S. has been an incredibly quick and immense feat. To date, over 121 million people have been vaccinated. While some remain skeptical about the vaccine, it has proven to be very effective in both providing immunity from COVID-19 as well as diminishing the likelihood of spreading it. The CDC hopes that the new guidelines will encourage people to get the vaccine, as vaccinated people have more freedom. The more people who receive the inoculation, the quicker we will be able to put the pandemic totally behind us once and for all.

After a peak in COVID-related deaths in January of this year, we have now dwindled down to a number we haven’t seen in over a year. For the first time since March 21 of last year, the U.S. has fewer than 1000 deaths per day. If this number continues to trend downwards, our hopes that the pandemic will soon be over is becoming more and more realistic.

I don’t think I would find anyone who would complain about a return to “the way things were,” but it is important to remember that even though we are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the pandemic isn’t over yet. It is still vital that we consider others at all times, vaccinated or not. So yes, we may have to stick it out with masks a little while longer, but with all the progress we have made and continue to make, the end of the COVID era should soon be here.