LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – Memorial Day marks our first largely maskless holiday since the pandemic started. That’s thanks to folks getting vaccinated.
In Kentucky, new cases are at their lowest point since last summer and it comes with a very different outlook today compared to one year ago.
Many were glad to be back at the movies over the weekend, a Memorial Day weekend tradition for some.
“There’s nothing like the popcorn they make here, and something about watching it on the big screen with the nice sound,” said moviegoer Justin Long.
Another of a long list of things that just weren’t quite the same last year, now made possible by the pandemic being far more under control than before.
“Just getting out, we took it for granted. just to be able to go someplace and do it on the fly,” Felicia Chism. “We never knew how much we should appreciate that until it was taken away and we were literally house-bound for a year.”
At this point last year, state data shows our seven-day average was no more than 220 cases. Fast forward through 12 months of hardship, pain and loss that peaked in January and cases are beginning to drop down again to a similar level.
The state did not provide a COVID-19 report for Sunday or Monday on this holiday weekend, but May 2021 is likely the lowest month for new cases since June 2020.
The number of new cases in the week that just ended is the lowest since early July 2020.
The difference this time is the trend: cases going down as vaccinations go up.
“If you are vaccinated, you are protected, and you can enjoy your Memorial Day,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “If you are not vaccinated, our guidance has not changed for you. you remain at risk of infection. you still need to mask and take other precautions.”
In Kentucky, 46 percent of the total state population has been vaccinated with 57 percent of those 18 and older and 81 percent in the most vulnerable population – 65 and older.
The pace, inevitably, has slowed, but doctors say it’s good news every time someone else gets the shot.
In part, it’s that hope that has allowed moviegoers we talked to feel safe and comfortable to come back to the theater, filling parking spots after a difficult year-plus of the pandemic.
“It is a relief to be able to go,” Long said. “It’s a little bit of normalcy in a world that’s not really normal right now.”
Many here hoping the sequel, coming this summer, has a much happier ending.
Only one of Kentucky’s 120 counties remains in the red: Webster County in western Kentucky.
Dr. Fauci has warned Americans not to ‘declare victory prematurely,’ but he says the more people get vaccinated the safer the community will be.