A full reopening for the state is about a month away. When that happens, experts say a key part of how residents move forward through the pandemic and stay healthy will include wearing a mask.
“I think masking is very, very important and I think that until we get to a place where we have a high number of people vaccinated that masks are going to be critically important,” said Dr. Ohm Deshpande of Yale New Haven Health.
Deshpande is the Vice President for Population Health and the Associate Chief Clinical Officer for the Health System. He said the state is in a good place in terms of COVID-19 cases and vaccinations.
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The next few weeks give time for the younger ages to get vaccinated ahead of restrictions being lifted at popular places like movie theaters, restaurants and bars, he added.
“Bars are going to be reopening, people are going to be drinking. Does that increase some risk? Sure, it does. But there are ways to mitigate and meet that risk by vaccinating and wearing masks,” Deshpande said.
Dr. Albert Ko of the Yale University School of Public Health agrees.
“Certainly, we’re in a much better spot than we were a month or two months ago,” Ko said.
He said part of the re-opening process looks at the intersection of vaccination rates and rates of new COVID infections.
“We’re not seeing the large surge in cases, we’re not seeing the increases in deaths and hospitalizations and that goes back to why vaccination is just so important,” Ko said.
Both doctors agree that as people return to their social activities, personal decision making will be a large part of re-opening success.
Paulo Verardi, Ph.D. is a Professor of Virology and Vaccinology at UConn and he said changing our pre-pandemic behavior is important.
“We really can’t go back to our pre-pandemic behaviors that quickly. We really have to modify them. It’s not going to be the same,” said Verardi. “So still need to avoid crowds as much as possible we really still need to wear those masks whenever possible in public spaces, and in particular public indoor spaces.”
Governor Lamont said he’ll have more information on indoor mask requirements in the coming days.