BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — We've come a long way since last spring, but we're still not in the clear yet.
UAB doctors urge us to take precaution ahead of Easter weekend, holidays, and special events. Our WZDX News reporter has the latest on gathering and travel during the pandemic.
"We know that several faith-based areas and events in our communities have stayed safe by either being outdoors or distancing their seating and requiring masks, and that has largely protected a lot of congregations and individuals," says UAB Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Ellen Eaton, M.D.
Eaton says the number of congregants can change this weekend.
"The concern is that with Easter, a lot of these spaces are going to be crowded, packed, more children and potentially more travelers, family coming in from out of town and potentially bringing in additional new variants," she says.
Eaton says if you do gather for Easter, that it's low risk to do so outdoors and in smaller groups. "In your small group of vaccinated family could gather indoors and watch a virtual service. Those would certainly all be lower risks than gathering indoors especially if individuals are not wearing masks," she says.
The CDC announced those fully vaccinated and wearing a mask can travel within the U.S. without having to quarantine or get tested for COVID-19. "In congregate settings like the airplane, prolonged flights, especially without masks, would be a higher risk environment," says Eaton.
Upcoming holidays and special events, including Mother's Day and graduation, often includes travel.
Although vaccinated people are at a lower risk, travel is still not recommended.
"I would encourage folks to stay closer to home until we get more Americans vaccinated. Remember, only 15 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated," says Eaton.