TAMPA, Fla.— — Updated guidance from the CDC has people hoping it’ll help get life back to normal. It comes as Tampa Bay area health experts say Florida’s COVID-19 case numbers and COVID vaccination rates are both down.
On Thursday, the CDC updated its recommendations for people who are fully vaccinated.
"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC Director.
While the CDC’s updates come with exceptions, Dr. Michael Teng, an associate professor at USF Health, explained the reasons behind it all.
“There’s been more and more data coming out that vaccinations are extremely effective at preventing both people from getting severe disease and even infected and also transmitting the disease,” said Dr. Teng.
ABC Action News looked into Florida’s COVID case numbers over the past month. On April 14, the state reported more than 6,700 new cases, and on Friday, the state logged nearly 3,600 new cases.
Across the Bay, St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman tweeted that Pinellas County’s positivity rate and rolling two week average is now under four percent, saying it’s “the lowest rate among Florida's 10 biggest counties.”
“Case numbers are down and continue to be down,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a Distinguished USF Health professor. “We’re seeing a nice steady decline in the number of new daily cases week over week.”
Dr. Unnasch explained in Florida, while case numbers are down, he says vaccination rates are also down. The latest Florida Department of Health data shows more than 9.4 million people in the state have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Florida as a whole, we peaked at around 225,000 on a seven-day average back in mid-March, and now it’s down to about 125,000 last week, so we’re down about maybe 60 percent of where we were at the peak,” said Unnasch.
Public health experts hope the CDC’s updates for the fully vaccinated serve as an incentive to those who’ve yet to receive their dose.
“I think that’s a really important message to get out there: that the vaccines really do work, and you’re really going to be able to get your life back,” said Unnasch.