Local health leaders still urging caution as CDC releases new fully vaccinated guidelines

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Grandparents, you can hug your grandchildren again once you’re vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued post-vaccination guidelines Monday. The update gives the OK for fully vaccinated people to gather with each other without masks. Fully vaccinated people can also gather with low-risk people like children.

Also, things are looking good on the hospitalization front in the Kansas City area.

One metro hospital said for the first time in a year, it has no COVID-19 patients in the ICU. St. Joseph Medical Center in south Kansas City is celebrating the milestone. Chief Nursing Officer Trish Feilmeier said they were able to have guests in the ICU Sunday night for the first time in a year.

“Our COVID numbers are way down, and this weekend has been the first time since March of 2020 we have not had a COVID patient in our ICU,” Feilmeier said. “So it’s really like maybe we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The CDC also released new guidelines Monday saying vaccinated people can be in close contact with unvaccinated people such as family in small groups. 

The Jackson County Health Department sees this as a good sign but it’s still waiting on vaccine shipments from the state. Assistant Public Health Director Ray Dlugolecki said he’s been asking the state on every call if it has more vaccines. 

“At this time, that percentage is less than 14% here in Jackson County. And so, at that point, there is just such a small percentage of individuals that this would actually apply to. So we are saying that the mask mandate is still going to be in in effect,” Dlugolecki said.

In Johnson County, Health Department Director Dr. Samni Areola said people need to remain vigilant even though cases are down and people are slowly getting vaccinated. 

“Right now, based on that level of vaccination, our message remains that people be very careful and the gathering that’s suggested, I’ve read it, again be sure it’s not indiscriminate gathering,” Areola said. “It’s controlled. It’s limiting the number of persons we interact with, avoiding indoor environments. Those continue to be important.”

Dlugolecki said he’s hoping more shipments of the vaccine will be coming to locations in the metro. He expects to start seeing an increase in shipments around March 15.

The CDC maintains if you haven’t been vaccinated, you should still wear a mask, practice social distancing, and even try to meet outdoors where possible.

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