COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Some health leaders say Central Ohio is on track for returning to normal and more relaxed health orders could be on the horizon.
“We’re talking about less restrictions, whereas there’s other countries, like Europe, India, are [talking about] more restrictions,” said Dr. Anup Kanodia, a family physician in Central Ohio.
Tuesday, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium started allowing guests to remove masks in outdoor spaces, as long as safe distance can be maintained. The updated policy mirrors state and national recommendations and comes as more than 41% of Ohioans have started the vaccination process.
The state’s vaccination rate is slowing, but Dr. Kanodia explained the availability of the shot and restrictions early in the pandemic have positioned the U.S. on a better path to recovery than other countries.
“We have missed that third wave because of what we have done both with the restrictions and the vaccines,” he said.
During a Sunday appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said indoor mask restrictions may be relaxed soon.
Dr. Kanodia said, “A lot of the things that we thought were unsafe are now safe if you’re vaccinated even if the people around you are not vaccinated.”
He pointed to CDC recommendations. The biggest takeaway from recently updated guidelines is most activities are safer outdoors and when participants are fully vaccinated. Dr. Kanodia explained virus transmission rates when outside are significantly lower than the 10% suggested by the CDC and said social distancing is still one of the most reliable safety measures.
At the Zoo Tuesday, visitors told NBC4 they felt more confident removing their masks in public spaces after receiving their COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re vaccinated, so we’re good to go. And outside it’s easier to stay away from people. We feel good about it,” said Elyse Stands, who was visiting with her mother and 2-year-old son.
“I’m fully vaccinated and feel a lot safer than I used to,” added Kathy Trace. “But I hope we’ve learned something from it too… that the mask does work.”
Governor Mike DeWine has tied health orders to the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate. He said he’ll lift all orders when cases drop below 50 per 100,000.