Holidays during COVID-19: What can I safely do this Fourth of July?

Fourth of July

In this Saturday, July 4, 2020, file photo, Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol along the National Mall in Washington. President Joe Biden wants to imbue Independence Day with new meaning in 2021 by encouraging nationwide celebrations to mark the country’s effective return to normalcy after 16 months of pandemic disruption. The White House says the National Mall in Washington will host the traditional fireworks ceremony and it’s encouraging other communities hold festivities as well. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — It’s the second Fourth of July of the pandemic, but now more than half of Pennsylvanians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines. Pennsylvania’s Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson offers advice for activities vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can safely do this holiday.

If you’re vaccinated…

“Because we’re vaccinated, we have a lot more freedom than we had last year,” Johnson said.

Johnson says vaccinated individuals can feel “pretty confident” that they’re protected from COVID-19, especially during outdoor gatherings. “Rates of transmission are very low outdoors, and being vaccinated, your risk is even lower,” she said.

At indoor gatherings with other vaccinated people, “you can feel free to do the things that you did before,” Johnson said.

At indoor events with both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, vaccinated individuals are not required to wear a mask, although Johnson notes that some people may feel more comfortable masking up as an extra precaution.

If you’re not vaccinated…

Outdoor events, especially ones that have space for some social distancing, should be “low-risk” for unvaccinated people, Johnson says.

However, those who haven’t received the COVID-19 shots have a greater risk of contracting a potentially serious case of the coronavirus at indoor gatherings. “Although masks are not required, people who are unvaccinated in crowded spaces may elect to wear a mask,” Johnson said.

The Delta variant of COVID-19 also poses a more serious threat to unvaccinated individuals, Johnson explains. “Really the Delta variant I think should be a major concern for those who have not been vaccinated,” she said.

“The vast majority of cases of COVID that we’re seeing now are in people who are not vaccinated and the Delta variant seems to be more easily spread,” Johnson said.

Johnson encourages unvaccinated individuals to get the vaccine, as it will give them “a lot more freedom and a lot less worry.”

If you’re traveling…

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are still required to wear masks on public transportation, such as airplanes, trains, and buses. Johnson also encourages those traveling to continue diligent hand hygiene practices and social distance whenever possible.

Additionally, Johnson says, “If you’re sick, you really should not be traveling or interacting with other people, and even if you don’t believe that you have COVID, you still should get the COVID test to be sure.”

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