Shawn Nowlin firstname.lastname@example.org
Life in Salem is starting to look a lot more normal. More than four million Virginians have received at least one dose of a vaccine, including a majority of Salem adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately three million Virginians have been fully vaccinated.
While the pandemic is not over yet, coronavirus cases throughout the Roanoke Valley continue to drop at a significant rate. After more than a year of having to stay in the house, many people are anxious to get outdoors and make memories with friends and family.
“This pandemic will certainly go down in the history books. Tragically, almost 600,000 people lost their lives to the coronavirus. This past year has taught me to not take things for granted and be thankful for everything that I have,” Salem native James Lawrence said. “I made sure that my entire family was fully vaccinated as soon as the option was available to us. We plan on fully embracing the outdoors this summer and returning to pre-pandemic life.”
Coronavirus restrictions began loosening in Virginia earlier this year. On May 28, Governor Ralph Northam announced that the Commonwealth would follow the latest recommendations from the CDC and no longer require individuals who have been fully vaccinated to wear masks indoors, except in specific circumstances. Originally proposed for a June 15 effective date, Northam later decided to move the timeline for Executive Order 72 up by two weeks.
“Commonsense public health restrictions have kept many Virginians safe during the last year, and with vaccines now widely available – over three million Virginians are fully vaccinated and safe from serious illness or death caused by COVID-19 – it is time to begin our new normal,” Northam said.
With Northam lifting most COVID-19 mitigation measures, that means that capacity restrictions and social distancing are done in most situations. Businesses, however, can still require employees and customers to wear a mask. Because of the low rates of vaccination among young people, masks are still required in schools.
The federal government requires masks to be worn whenever one uses public transportation, including on airplanes, buses and trains. Candace Murray, who takes the Valley Metro Bus four times a week to her Salem job, said, “it warms my heart to see the vast majority of people adhering to the recommendations from the health experts. I always have extra hand sanitizer and masks just in case someone is without.”
Although the state has lifted restrictions, Northam is still urging Salem residents to get fully vaccinated. “We still have a lot of work ahead to meet President Biden’s new goal of 70 percent vaccination by the Fourth of July. But I still feel confident that Virginia can do our part,” he said.