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Vaccine Tracker: Should all COVID-19 restrictions be lifted?

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 7:11 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - On this edition of the Vaccine Tracker we’re looking at an interview from CNBC this week where a former FDA Commissioner made the call for COVID-19 restrictions to be “aggressively” rolled back.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb was an FDA Commissioner from 2017 to 2019. He says with the improvement around the country this would be the time to ease restrictions. In the article below, Johns Hopkins University mentions a current positivity rate of 3.6%, which is an all-time low.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/06/gottlieb-cdc-can-consider-lifting-indoor-covid-mask-mandates-now.html

Dr. Gottlieb adds that dropping the restrictions when seeing an improvement in cases will help build trust with the community and add credibility for the mandates if they must be reinstated later.

I spoke with Dr. Mark Fox, Deputy Health Officer of with the St. Joseph County Department, and he says taking into account only positivity rates doesn’t give a full picture of the current COVID-19 environment.

“Looking just at positivity rates is really tricky. So, if you look at St. Joseph County our positivity rate looks really, really good; it’s under 5%,” Dr. Fox says. “We still have 187 cases per 100,000 population every week. So, we still have a significant amount of community transmission. So I don’t think you can say ‘oh our positivity rate low so it’s fine’. You have to look at positivity rate and case rate in a population before you jump to any conclusions,”

St. Joseph County’s mask mandate order will end on May 27th and Dr. Fox tells me there is no plan to extend that as of now.

On the vaccine front, Notre Dame has around 90% of their students fully vaccinated from COVID-19 as of this week. Vaccinations have had a major impact on COVID-19 cases on campus and shows how well the vaccines work.

“If you look at Notre Dame, they just finished their second round of vaccine doses yesterday, and 90% of the undergraduate students are fully vaccinated and their case rates have plummeted. They were having 20 a day, 20 cases a day a month ago and now it’s one, two, three maybe. So, more of those cases are among faculty or staff than among students now. So, it’s a great case study in vaccine efficacy.”

We’ll continue to keep an eye on the vaccination rollout, and I want to hear from you. Email me at zach.horner@wndu.com or find me on Facebook and send a message if you have an issue or idea of something we can dig into on the Vaccine Tracker.

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