KALAMAZOO, Mich. — With the announcement of looser restrictions for fully vaccinated people outdoors, a West Michigan professor is weighing in on why this is possible and what's ahead.
Dr. Robert Bensley, a professor for Western Michigan University's Interdisciplinary Health Programs Department, said it's a step in the right direction as outdoor mask mandates loosen for fully vaccinated adults, proving that the vaccine is in fact working.
"I think it’s great that they’re releasing new mask mandates. I think people have done a lot over the last year, 13 months to try to mitigate and contain COVID," said Dr. Bensley.
It has been well over 365 days since our new normal has involved mask mandates and social distancing.
On Tuesday, the Biden Administration gave Americans some type of hope by loosening some of those outdoor mask mandates for fully vaccinated individuals.
"We’re starting with outside in terms of reducing the mask restriction, because you are outdoors. The breezes, the air and everything else that is out there dissipates any COVID," said Dr. Bensley.
Dr. Bensley said the loosening of restrictions was made possible thanks to COVID-19 vaccines.
The latest statistics show over 50 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose.
"You can only imagine the more vaccines, the more people are vaccinated, the greater likelihood that we are going to get back to a place where we are not spreading COVID, and hopefully be able to move some of the mandates or reduce some of those mandates that are indoor as well," said Dr. Bensley.
Dr. Bensley said we aren't there yet.
While restrictions are loosening, he hopes people don't start to think the pandemic is fully over.
"The intent is to try to get people to get back to some type of normalcy, but ensuring that the vaccine is part of this whole process," said Dr. Bensley.
Dr. Bensley said reaching herd immunity includes vaccinating kids under the age of 16 once the FDA approves them for emergency use. Kids below the age of 16 make up about a quarter of the U.S. population.
Once we get there, Dr. Bensley said he is hopeful the country will start to see some indoor restrictions loosen as well.