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CDC Announces Fully Vaccinated Individuals Can Partially Return To Pre-Pandemic Activities Without Masks, GRCC Officials Scheduled To Meet To Discuss Changes

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Screen capture of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's COVID-19 briefing on Apr. 9, 2021.

By Sean Chase

On Thursday, May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that fully vaccinated individuals may resume pre-pandemic activities, such as large indoor and outdoor gatherings, without being required to follow mask mandates and social-distancing guidelines.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities large or small without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, in a video on Twitter. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

Within the latest release from the CDC, it was announced that fully vaccinated individuals may once again resume travel outside of the United States without observing a self-quarantine upon returning. However, a negative COVID-19 test within 3-5 days of travel is still required and the CDC is recommending that everyone (including fully vaccinated individuals) continue wearing masks and following local social distancing guidelines, when traveling via airplane or train, as well as when traveling via public transportation.

The CDC guidelines state that individuals are considered to be fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson  single-dose vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the second dose of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

If you haven’t met these requirements, you must continue to wear a mask and follow social distancing recommendations when indoors.

After the CDC announcement, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released a statement, via Twitter, which unveiled that starting on Saturday, May 15, at 9 a.m., fully vaccinated Michiganders (44.2% of Michigan residents as of May 14) can once again gather indoors and outside in large groups without masks.

“Throughout this entire pandemic, our north star has been data and science from the CDC and our public health professionals. And we are going to continue to listen and trust the experts,” Whitmer said. “After months of getting out the damn vaccine, the data is clear: The COVID-19 vaccines are a miracle of modern science and they work to keep people safe from this deadly virus.”

Although this is a sign of progress in the ‘MI Vacc to Normal’ plan, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and MDHHS chief deputy director for health, continued to urge Michiganders to receive vaccinations.

“It’s critical that eligible Michigan residents who have not yet been vaccinated schedule their appointments as soon as they can,” stated Khaldun in a press release. “Getting shots in arms is the best way to end the pandemic. If you have not yet been vaccinated, it is important to continue to mask up to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”

With the previous MDHHS mask mandate set to expire on July 1, businesses and schools must adjust quickly to Gov. Whitmer’s announcement. They are waiting for guidance as to the best way to effectively move forward with identifying who is fully vaccinated and who isn’t.

As of 10:15 p.m., on Friday, May 14, the latest MDHHS order, detailing these guidelines has yet to be made available to the public.

Currently, Grand Rapids Community College is requiring students and employees to follow current campus guidelines regarding masks and social distancing through Monday, May 17, with the GRCC COVID-19 response team meeting on the same day to discuss these changes.

The Collegiate reached out to Vicki Janowiak, GRCC’s Executive Director for Operational Planning and COVID-19 response team coordinator, to find out how the updated CDC guidelines at the state and federal levels will impact GRCC students. However, Janowiak couldn’t be reached for comment at the time of publication.

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