The CDC announced this week it is relaxing mask recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals who are outdoors, but they caution that the return to normal hinges on as many people getting fully vaccinated as soon as possible.
President Biden reiterated this week his hopes for a return to normalcy for everyone by the Fourth of July.
The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated individuals keep wearing masks at indoor events like worship services, but many churches in states without mask mandates are letting their parishioners decide whether or not they want to mask up.
“Masks are not required for those attending our weekend services in the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex; however, at our Jackson Hole Campus, masks are required while moving to and from your seat,” reads Gateway Church website. The Fort Worth-based church has locations in Texas and Wyoming.
A group called Christians and the Vaccine is working to help pastors separate fact from fiction when it comes to discussing the vaccine with the congregations.
“I do think we have an issue that a lot of people in the congregation are not looking to pastors for leadership on this particular area and the people they are looking to for leadership are manufacturing an awful lot of distrust,” said David French, senior editor at The Dispatch during an online conversation discussing pastors and the vaccine.
According to the group’s website, their goal is to “provide information about the vaccine from trusted Christian voices” but they believe everyone should make an informed decision on whether or not to do so themselves.
“We make the case that Christians should take the vaccine,” the statement continues. “But as important as the action itself is, we believe the decision-making process matters just as much.”
As the U.S. starts to see the first glimmers of normalcy, the world’s worst COVID outbreak is unfolding in India.
“The healthcare system has collapsed around us, hospitals have shut their gates places are running out of medical oxygen,” described New York Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman. “There’s no ventilators to spare. Medicine has run short, and so many people are desperate to get help.”
People in India are begging for medical assistance in the streets with the hospitals overcrowded. In New Delhi, makeshift crematoriums are popping up to handle the increased casualties.
“They’re setting up sites next to the official cremation grounds and lots of parking lots of parks, and they’re lighting on fire, dozens of bodies at once,” continued Gettleman.
Countries like the United Kingdom are racing to help the situation by flying in ventilators and oxygen contractors. President Biden also pledged U.S. support this week.
“We’ll be able to send actual vaccines to India, which will be my intention to do,” said Biden on Tuesday.
Even with help on the way, the situation is quickly spiraling out of control, and public health experts in India fear they haven’t even reached the peak of the current crisis yet.