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Hi, this is Mayor John Hamilton. It's Monday, May 17th, 2021. A lot of news today. Many of you are aware, I'm sure, that the Center for Disease Control last Thursday, Director Walensky indicated that in their view, those who are fully vaccinated in the United States can significantly change protocols and behaviors if you choose.
    
They recommended that if you are fully vaccinated, last shot plus two weeks, that you can remove a mask and participate in normal ways in many, many, many activities, both indoors and outdoors. There were some exceptions on public transit and in hospital and nursing home settings, certain congregate settings, et cetera. But generally, indicating the ability to change your behaviors if you're fully vaccinated.
    
That is a big deal. That's a big day and a real signal of the incredible effectiveness of vaccines. They had new data that showed the very powerful, protective effect of vaccines against the virus, including variants. That's a huge, big, exciting thing. It has meant even locally, we've changed our rules effective today.
    
Now, I would prefer we may have taken a little slower take on this, but it is where we are. And so effective today, on Monday, the county health orders are dissolved. Meaning our community is now subject only to the state health rules, and those are much more relaxed than ours. The mask mandate is gone. The gathering size limits are gone, and rules about bars and restaurants, et cetera are gone.
    
I felt it appropriate in that circumstance to rescind the city order, too, which had only tailored a very small number of the county health orders to smaller numbers. So essentially, we're now under the Indiana rules and you can check those out on the state Department of Health website or other places.
    
Now, it's critically important to note the CDC recommendations only relate to people who are fully vaccinated. If you are not fully vaccinated, and that is most of our people, both locally and in the state and the country, if you are not fully vaccinated, it is strongly recommended that you continue to wear a mask to protect yourself and others, that you distance, that you do not undertake gathering sizes with other people.
    
As you know, it's very complicated now because of course, none of us knows by looking at anybody, whether we're vaccinated or not. And we don't have a formal way to affirm that or verify it. So there's a lot of questions still and uncertainty in any individual institution, whether it's an employer like the city of Bloomington, whether it's a restaurant, whether it's another kind of gathering facility that can choose its own rules.
    
So many merchants, many people are trying to figure this out on the fly. It's happened very quickly. And on the one hand, it's very good news that those who are vaccinated are extremely well-protected. New data is showing that. On the other hand, we still face the risk of people who are not vaccinated getting seriously ill or even passing away from this disease which is still among us.
    
So it's a complicated time. We should celebrate that the vaccines have worked so well. Anybody who's 12 and over can get the vaccine now. There's availability, so the excuses of having to wait in line or hard to get an appointment are gone. I've strongly encouraged everyone to get a vaccine, who's able to do so safely. And if not, I strongly encourage you to keep protecting yourself and others.
    
For example, as a city employer, we're reviewing our policies about city employment and conditions at the workplace, whether police or fire department or utility department, parks department, others. We're reviewing the City Hall protocols, but we do continue to know that those who are not vaccinated are at significant risk of catching the disease and spreading it to others who are not vaccinated.
    
So it's complicated. On the one hand, celebrating this really important milestone. On the other hand, being sober and recognizing that we're not out of the woods. There are people still getting sick and being hospitalized, and even dying from COVID in our midst. So it's going to take a lot of good faith effort. A lot of this can depend upon individual choices and trying to do the right thing to protect yourself and your family and your community. So big update today on that.
    
We've no doubt we'll continue to be reporting on those kinds of changes. But in the basic protocols now, we are the same as the rest of the state of Indiana. In terms of restrictions, masks are encouraged, especially for those who are not vaccinated, but anyone should feel welcomed to wear a mask anytime they feel comfortable doing so.
    
And we'll keep you updated. That's enough for this week. Thanks for all that you're doing. Please make the right decisions and please get vaccinated. That's what's going to get us through this pandemic.

 

 

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