Local health officials excited to see new CDC guidance, ask people to still use caution

MADISON, Wis.– New CDC recommendations are a sigh of relief and a step closer to the end of the pandemic.

“It allows some hope as we can consider returning to whatever our new normal may be,” Public Health Madison and Dane County Director Janel Heinrich said.

The latest CDC recommendations allow fully vaccinated people to gather in small groups in a private space without wearing masks.

“When you’re in those spaces, I think it’s always important to check in with the other folks around you to make sure they’re as comfortable as you might be,” Heinrich said.

It takes two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after the only dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to be fully vaccinated.

While it’s exciting to loosen up a bit, doctors want people to still use caution.

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you need to,” UW Health Chief Quality Officer Jeff Pothof said.

Pothof said it’s important to remember the new guidelines affect only a sliver of the population. That is 13 percent of people here in Dane County who have received both doses.

Pothof said the vaccine does a good job at protecting people from becoming really sick with the virus, but it doesn’t mean a fully vaccinated person can’t catch it.

“They would be much less likely to be a significant risk to other people,” Pothof said. “Might be a little risk, but not a significant risk.”

Pothof said scientists aren’t quite sure yet how a vaccinated person carrying the virus can affect those who aren’t vaccinated.

“The data isn’t yet conclusive on your ability to potentially spread it to others,” Pothof said.

A masking requirement will stay in effect for the foreseeable future in Madison and Dane County.

“I can’t say when that might be, but what we know is that masking works,” Heinrich said. “It works to protect yourself and it works to protect the people you are around.”