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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Public health leaders in Douglas County have reason to smile with COVID-19 totals having improved to the point that Douglas County’s health department announced they’re “in the green,” making reference to the color-coded system of classifying various counties’ progress in fighting the pandemic.

A county known for its university is getting a good report card. COVID-19 statistics shared by the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department indicate public health is improving as Douglas County’s rate of vaccination climbs to nearly 70%.

Douglas County officially entered “the green” earlier this week, now that the average of new COVID-19 cases (23.57) is below 25, and the total of active cases (494) has dropped below 500.

“This is a sign that our community is doing a pretty good job,” Daniel B. Smith, a spokesperson for Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, said. “This is a sign that people in the community are doing a good job and taking this seriously. We’re hoping that graph line that’s trending down will keep trending down and we’ll see less people getting sick in Douglas County.”

COVID-19 cases totals are dropping slightly in many metro regions.

Medical professionals continue to stress the need for vaccinations, including booster shots for those who were vaccinated six months ago or longer.

Doctors tell FOX4 it’s too soon to say how this could affect public mask mandates.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease expert with the University of Kansas Health System, said the public must continue to respect health advisories and guidelines in order for restrictions to be lifted eventually.

Hawkinson recommends continuing to wear masks at indoor gatherings, especially in regards to the upcoming holiday season, to avoid giving COVID-19 a chance to make a comeback.

“I’m encouraged by both the cases that are decreasing, but also in the hospitalizations, which are decreasing as well,” Hawkinson said. “Vaccinations are still our way out of this, and by out of this, I mean continuing to be able to go to work, and not go to the hospital and not go to the ICU, continuing to keep our children in school and protecting our children.