grainger bob

March 12: A push for masks was evident on many corners at the University of Illinois, including on ‘Grainger Bob’ outside Grainger Engineering Library in Urbana. Several statues were given similar, easy-to-see treatment, including Alma Mater and Red Grange.

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CHAMPAIGN — Before you ditch your mask for outdoor activities, consider two things.

Are you fully vaccinated?

Is your outdoor activity a walk in the park or a small group gathering with other vaccinated people — or are you going to a large group activity like a festival where some people may be vaccinated and some may not be?

“We’ve always known outside is a lot safer,” said Julie Pryde, administrator of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

But take note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidance Tuesday applies to fully vaccinated people.

“If people are unvaccinated, they’re always at risk until they get vaccinated,” Pryde said.

Under the new guidance, fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask outdoors unless they’re in certain crowded settings.

“If you’re out walking in a park, you don’t need a mask,” Pryde said. “If we have outdoor events, we still need some sort of a way to control the numbers and either make the venue bigger or limit the number of people going into it.”

The CDC is now also advising that fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors in smaller-sized gatherings without wearing masks or maintaining social distancing and can be unmasked when visiting with unvaccinated people (including kids) from a single household if those people are at low risk for severe COVID-19.

“Basically, the main thing is, if you’re vaccinated, you can start doing things without worrying about it,” Pryde said.

Fully vaccinated people should continue to avoid large-sized in-person gatherings and take precautions such as wearing well-fitted masks in indoor public settings. Fully vaccinated people should also continue wearing well-fitted masks if they gather indoors with unvaccinated people who are at higher risk for COVID-19.

What Pryde said she’d like to see is more people being vaccinated. At this point, anyone 16 and older who wants the vaccine can get it, she said.

She and Deputy Administrator Awais Vaid said people should also be aware that there have been a handful of COVID-19 cases among fully vaccinated people in Champaign County.

But in all those cases, fully vaccinated people who tested positive were asymptomatic or had very mild illness, Vaid said.

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