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Vaccinated people can return to many mask-free activities in Douglas County

Douglas County Public Health Officer releases recommendation, based on updated state, federal guidance.

File: COVID-19 vaccine clinic.jpg
AMI Expeditionary Healthcare’s vaccination clinic at the University of Wisconsin-Superior opened Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
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Two shots add up to no mask. Fully vaccinated people can resume mask-free activities in Douglas County, according to a May 18 news release from Douglas County Health Officer Kathy Ronchi.

The recommendation is based on updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the state Department of Health Services. Fully vaccinated people can resume activities they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, both indoors and outdoors, without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations. Private businesses, schools and workplaces may have their own policies that need to be followed, Ronchi said.

There are exceptions to the new guidelines. People should continue to use masks in health care settings, homeless shelters, correctional facilities and on buses, trains and planes, Ronchi said. People who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks and physically distance in public. People with weakened immune systems should consult their health care provider.

Although the risk that fully vaccinated people could become infected with COVID-19 is low, they should still get tested for the virus if they experience any symptoms. Fully vaccinated people should not visit private or public settings if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days or are experiencing symptoms of the virus.

In the past year, more than 4,000 people in Douglas County tested positive for COVID-19, 150 people were hospitalized with the virus, and 39 have died. Thousands were quarantined as a result of being exposed to the disease.

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As of May 17, nearly 48% of Douglas County residents had received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the department of health services ; only 17,712, or 41% of the population, have completed the two-dose vaccine series. A person is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if it has been two or more weeks since they received the last dose of vaccine, which allows time for immunity to develop.

COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available in Douglas County. The Community Clinic at the Wessman Arena is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. No appointment is necessary. The clinic serves people 12 years and older. Information about other local vaccine clinics can be found online at vaccines.gov .

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