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State Health Officer: We’re getting gradually closer to normalcy and a mask-free future

Updated: May. 4, 2021 at 7:36 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Live music and fans back in seats at sporting events... reminders of pre-COVID normalcy.

Dr. Thomas Dobbs mentioned getting back to 100% normalcy and a mask-free Mississippi in a tweet Tuesday morning. So we asked when he foresees that happening.

“I’m just really hopeful that we hit July, we can be saying, ‘OK, let’s just do normal stuff,’” explained Dobbs. “There might be some small restrictions like wearing a mask on the airplane or something like that.”

But Dobbs says it will require the state continuing to ramp up vaccine efforts.

“Get the vast majority of our vulnerable folks vaccinated and a significant majority of everybody else protected, then we’re not going to have to have masks on,” said Dobbs. “But we’ve got a little ways to go. The fate is in our hands.”

State epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers expects the Pfizer vaccine to get approval for 12-15 year olds this month. So, what impact could that have on the vaccination rates?

“We will see some uptick,” noted Byers. “We’ve got somewhere in the range of 160,000 or more kids who fall into those age groups and we want to get as many of them vaccinated as we can. I hope that we will see some higher demand.”

The fact that only 16 and up are eligible now is one reason Dobbs says masks in schools are still needed. But he makes this note about the 2021-2022 school year.

“It would be our goal and anticipation that we can get kids back to school next Friday in the fall,” Dobbs said.

Overall, a message filled with more hope but an urgency for folks not to keep sitting on the sidelines waiting for the vaccine.

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