The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance Thursday for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.
The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools and other venues — even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.
“We have all longed for this moment — when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” said Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.
Walensky said the long-awaited change is thanks to the millions of people who have gotten vaccinated and is based on the latest science about how well those shots are working.
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” Walensky said. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”
As of Friday, 16,815 Bulloch residents had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. The number of residents fully vaccinated is up to 14,289.
In the area, only Jenkins County at 21% has administered first vaccine doses at a lower rate than Bulloch’s 22%. Bryan County is at 32%, Candler and Screven counties are at 28%, Evans County is at 26%, and Effingham County is at 24%.
Across Georgia, 3,822,005 residents have received at least one dose as of Friday and 3,068,866 are fully vaccinated. However, only Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Utah have a lower rate than Georgia of residents being fully vaccinated.
Maine at 47%, Connecticut at 46% and Vermont at 45% are the states with the highest rates of residents fully vaccinated. Georgia is at 29%.
According to the CDC, almost 155 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 119 million have been fully vaccinated.
Vermont at 63%, Massachusetts at 61% and Hawaii at 60% are the states with the highest rates of residents with at least one dose. Georgia is at 37%.
Local, state cases
Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn said Bulloch had no new cases on Friday and three on Thursday.
The county now has a total of 5,282 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March 2020. Overall, the COVID cases have resulted in 64 confirmed deaths and 221 local residents being hospitalized since the pandemic began in March.
East Georgia Regional Medical Center reported treating six COVID-19 patients, with two on ventilators Wednesday.
Across the state, there were 668 new cases on Friday and 859 on Thursday. The state's total number of confirmed cases is now up to 889,417.
The state reported 20 deaths on Friday and 17 on Thursday. Georgia’s death toll now stands at 17,785 since March 2020.
According to statistics from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, as of Wednesday afternoon, 584,994 Americans had died from coronavirus.
Also, Johns Hopkins reported the U.S. has had 32,880,252 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic. Confirmed infections have fallen to about 35,000 per day on average, their lowest mark since last August.
The Bulloch County Schools system has had no new cases so far this week. A total of 648 COVID cases have been reported since classes started on Aug. 17. Since the beginning of March, the system has reported a total of 53 new cases.
Georgia Southern had six total cases reported May 2–8 — five self-reported and one university-confirmed case. GS reported seven total cases for the week of April 26-May 2.
East Georgia State College has reported no new cases since April 18. The college has had a total of 159 cases across its three campuses since Aug. 17.
Ogeechee Technical College reported no new cases the week of May 2–8. Ogeechee Tech has had a total of 73 cases across its campuses since Aug. 17.