If you’re in a bar, gym or movie theater, you can take your mask off if you’re vaccinated.

Editorial is the opinion of Morgan Hill Life

After 15 months of a shut-down for public health precautions due to COVID-19, life in California is getting back to normal. Thank goodness!

The world’s fifth largest economy opened June 15 with the promise society and the economy will soon return to business as usual.

The grand re-opening of the state is wonderful news for Gilroy and the rest of South Valley. We will start to see local restaurants, retail shops and other merchants move forward from the burden of restrictions placed on them by the state and county governments. And public events such as music concerts and festivals will bring people together again.

Before we start celebrating, however, let’s consider the loss of life we have seen during the many months of the pandemic. California has lost more than 63,500 residents so far. Gilroy lost 120 people and Morgan Hill lost 58 individuals. Each one of those men, women and children had friends and family members who now mourn. Because of COVID-19 they will never enjoy time with them again at birthday parties, anniversaries, or backyard barbecues.

The mandatory wearing of masks was reduced as of June 15. If you’re in a bar, gym or movie theater, you can take your mask off if you’re vaccinated. And the state has also relaxed social distancing protocols by adopting the recommendation of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means vaccinated adults can feel free to visit the majority of public places without being required to wear a mask. Remember that there are still exceptions. If you’re visiting a venue where many vulnerable people gather in a confined space, you must wear a mask. These include hospitals and other health care sites, nursing homes, prisons and jails, public transit such as buses and trains, and school classrooms.

If you’re not vaccinated, the rules require you to wear a mask indoors in most public places. This means that for the most part people will be on the honor system because officials have not been clear if or how that rule will be enforced. Businesses can require masks of all their customers, implement a vaccination verification system or simply go with the honor system.

If you haven’t yet received your inoculation for COVID-19, we highly recommend doing so for not only your own health but also the public safety of your South Valley community.

We need as many of our fellow citizens vaccinated as possible to make sure we reach “herd immunity” and thus limit the spread of the virus and its potential mutation into more dangerous variants. Santa Clara County strongly urges everyone who is 12 and older who is not yet vaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine to help protect the community from the virus. For county residents and workers who haven’t received their free vaccine visit sccfreevax.org to find a vaccination location near you.

We know there are South Valley residents who are hesitant about getting their shots for COVID-19, but the vaccines have been proven safe and extremely effective to combat the disease.

Santa Clara County has among the highest vaccination rates in the nation. More than 79 percent of county residents 12 and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and almost 70 percent have completed their vaccination dosage.

As community vaccination rates increase and COVID-19 case rates remain low, some larger vaccine sites are closing down operations. The Gilroy High School site will close July 8. The site at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara closed. The large vaccination sites at Emmanuel Baptist Church and the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose will remain open both for vaccinations and COVID-19 testing.

The big question for the future is how long the vaccine protection lasts. As variants of the coronavirus continue to spread and mutate, researchers will monitor how the vaccines perform and whether booster shots will be needed to maintain meaningful immunity. According to some health experts, we might need booster shots, including as soon as this fall or winter, to keep us safe. But this is not yet certain.

Yes, let’s celebrate our lives getting back to normal after the pain of a pandemic. But let’s also stay vigilant and take precautions to avoid having to go through the pain again.

Morgan Hill Life Editorial
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