(CNN) — As the United States celebrated Memorial Day, health experts celebrated that more than half of the population was at least partially vaccinated, but reminded people that there is still work to be done to also keep the upcoming holidays safe from the covid. -19.
“It’s great news that people can see their friends, feel comfortable traveling because they are vaccinated,” William Haseltine, a former professor at Harvard Medical School, told CNN. “The bad news is that if you are not vaccinated, you are still at risk and your risk is as high as before.”
Crowds flocked to beaches and bars over the weekend, a sight that experts said was less of a concern now than the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 50.5% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and 40.7% are fully vaccinated.
“It feels very, very close to normal,” Santa Monica, California resident Bob Alfera told CNN. “And it’s good to see people really in a good mood.”
The sentiment was in stark contrast to what was seen a year ago, when the disregard for social distancing on many beaches and the video of a crowded pool party in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri – showing many people huddled in and out of a pool – so health experts feared the peaks were just around the corner.
The following month, at least 16 states halted or reversed their reopening plans to combat the surges.
This year, President Joe Biden has set a goal for 70% of the population to have received at least one dose by July 4. And from another million-dollar giveaway in Ohio to mobile vaccine units shipped to densely populated parts of New York, officials are stepping up their efforts to reach that goal.
Signs of normalcy
From residential care centers to airports, much of the United States has begun to look more like it did before the virus.
On Monday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released an updated guide that allows fully vaccinated people to go without a mask in most places in residential care facilities, according to a statement.
That same day was expected to be the busiest of the pandemic at US airports.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) examined more than 7 million people Thursday through Sunday. On Friday, the TSA examined 1.96 million people.
And travel industry experts say this is likely to be a busy summer. On Monday, United Airlines said June-August bookings are more than double last year’s.
In New Orleans, there was a Mardi Gras-style parade over the weekend after months of delay, and 50,000 people showed up.
“It feels amazing,” said Kelley Cartner, a Jefferson Parish resident. “Being here with family and friends is just amazing.”
Continuing Hazard Warnings
Although some experts, such as medical professor Dr. Jonathan Reiner, encouraged vaccinated people to go out and have fun over the weekend, they also warned of the danger that persists for unvaccinated Americans.
Any country that believes that the danger has passed is wrong, said the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“We are very encouraged that cases and deaths continue to decline globally, but it would be a monumental mistake for any country to believe that the danger has passed,” he said.
“One day, hopefully soon, the pandemic will be left behind. But the psychological scars will remain for those who have lost loved ones, healthcare workers who have been stretched beyond the breaking point. And the millions of people of all ages faced with months of loneliness and isolation.
The mayor of Miami Beach, a popular weekend destination, worried that “too many people are coming” to his quaint seaside town.
“The virus is still here,” said Mayor Dan Gelber. “The volume of people who have come here is unprecedented.”
CNN’s Rebekah Riess, Holly Yan, Naomi Thomas, Sahar Akbarzai, Pete Muntean, Greg Wallace, and Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism