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Doctors urge Central Texans to continue to mask up, despite governor’s order relaxing rules

‘COVID is real, and it’s terrible, and it’s a lot worse than people think it is.’
Published: Mar. 10, 2021 at 10:36 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Local doctors were urging people to “still be smart” and continue to wear masks, despite Governor Greg Abbott’s order lifting mask requirements and opening businesses at 100 percent which went into effect Wednesday.

“While the governor has said we’re not requiring people to continue to wear masks, people should still wear their masks, people should still be team players and reduce the risk of this passing from one to another,” said Dr. Marc Elieson, Medical Director for In-Patient Services at Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center. “COVID is real, and it’s terrible, and it’s a lot worse than people think it is.”

Elieson says he wishes more Central Texans were already vaccinated.

“We have not completed Phase 1B, much less have we completed vaccinating the general population at-large, so while the general population may have milder cases, they’re still the means of transmission from healthy people to people who are at risk, so I wish we had more people vaccinated before we were at this point.”

Elieson says the CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated people released this week is science-based and “logical”.

“There’s a lot of excitement about the vaccine and lifting of restrictions,” said Elieson. “The guidelines say, if you’ve been vaccinated, and you’re two weeks out from the vaccine or more, that you can be around people in the same room without your masks, but it’s not to be in large groups or large gatherings or multiple families, but you can interact with one unvaccinated family, so there is still risk, but it’s mitigating the risk and allowing people to do actives that re within reason.”

“The CDC guidelines also say, if you’re around people who are at high risk for serious illness, meaning they have diabetes, they’re elderly, they’re overweight, they have kidney disease, those are patients who are at higher risk for having a bad outcome,” said Elieson. “So even if you are fully vaccinated, you should still wear a mask and they should still wear a mask around you.”

While COVID-19 variants are a concern, Elieson says they haven’t become the major concern yet.

“We haven’t seen a lot of the new variants in our area yet, but it is spreading,” said Elieson. “We’re monitoring that as it develops.”

Elieson says the major concern right now, for him, is people taking off their masks and abandoning logic, science and guidelines put out by the scientific community.

“I am concerned that while we’ve made terrific grounds, we have seen a huge reduction in cases, we’re still seeing cases, so I’m really concerned we could revert right back to where we were two months ago,” said Elieson. “If people can just be smart and wise and cautious for just a little bit longer when we have more vaccines and more people vaccinated, I think we will be in wonderful shape as a community.”

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