Mask wearing should continue after vaccine arrives, health officials say


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Local public health officials are not only warning against gathering with people they don’t live with this Thanksgiving due to COVID-19, but they also suggest mask wearing should continue even after a vaccine is in place.

Austin Public Heath Director Stephanie Hayden said Tuesday morning on KXAN News Today that even as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to the general public, people should do the things that helps keep everyone the safest.

“We want you to continue to wear your mask and continue to social distance,” Hayden said. “Our goal is that we want to make sure that we get enough people to get the vaccine to get us in a safe place.”

She said the anticipated date for the availability of the vaccine to the general public is mid-2021, so even as people get the shots, health officials still want people to use the same preventative practices as suggested throughout the pandemic.

Should Austin ISD go 100% virtual when students return?

The Austin Independent School District says a decision on whether to hold 100% virtual classes for the week following Thanksgiving will come no later than Wednesday. It’s an idea rooted in mitigating potential COVID-19 spread when students come back from Thanksgiving break and may have unknowingly contracted it while spending time with others outside their household.

While Hayden wouldn’t go as far as saying AISD should definitely revert back to online classes only, she said parents should have that conversation with school administrators if their families spend time with others over the holiday.

“If you know you have taken your family to gather with other individuals, I recommend you reach out to the school,” Hayden said.

She went on to reiterate what APH officials have said since schools started bringing students back to the classrooms that infections aren’t happening in classroom settings. They are happening through extracurricular activities and gatherings outside of the school.

APH only advises schools and districts on how to run extracurricular activities. They don’t make decisions for those districts.

“We will offer the schools when we’ve talked with them — is this is the safest way to do it, because we will provide to what is the lowest risk, what is the highest risk?” Hayden said. “But here are some tips that could keep you safe.”

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