Tulare County Health and Human Services is stressing those who gather for Easter and other religious celebrations and observances should remain diligent in maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols.

The health department also stated while Tulare County's rate of infections has leveled off, it wants that to continue as other states are seeing increased rates in infection rates.

“Special events and holidays are significant,” Tulare County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Haught said. “We understand the importance of maintaining some type of connection as we work our way back to normalcy. However, we strongly encourage residents to continue COVID-19 safety measures, even if you are vaccinated, because COVID-19 remains a health risk.”

 Despite the more robust availability of vaccinations and the county on the verge of moving into the orange tier, it remains extremely important all residents continue to maintain safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID, including masking and social distancing, until vaccinations are widely distributed, the health department stated. Residents must always wear a face mask or covering while in environments where physical distancing isn't possible and while in public settings.

The county continues to encourage everyone to receive a vaccination when available as now everyone ages 16 and above are now eligible to be vaccinated.

The county also encourages virtual gatherings or to just gather within households. Those who are gathering with others are encouraged to hold gatherings outside, to maintain social distancing and to wear a mask.

People should avoid crowded, poorly vented indoor places. If indoors, people should open windows and doors if possible. The county is also discouraging traveling out of state if not needed.

FULLY VACCINATED

The Centers For Disease Control considers the following people to be fully vaccinated: Two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires just one shot. Those who have not met this criteria aren't considered fully vaccinated.

Those who are fully vaccinated can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask. They can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without wearing a mask unless anyone has an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. As an example those who have been fully vaccinated can visit with relatives who all live together.

Those who are fully vaccinated who has been around someone who has COVID-19 don't need to quarantine or be tested unless they have symptoms. But those who live in a group setting even if they are fully vaccinated should quarantine for 14 days and be tested even if they don't have symptoms.

“Until more people are vaccinated and while we’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you should still take steps to protect yourself and others,” the health department stated.

Those who want to host a gathering should be fully vaccinated if possible and be tested for COVID-19. They should limit the number of guests to three households and should keep gatherings to two hours or less.  Self-serve items should be limited.

The health department is also encouraging to have tradition meals just with those you live with and to practice religious customs at home. The health department is encouraging outdoor or virtual religious and cultural activities.

Other activities encouraged by the health department include having a virtual dinner with loved ones and to have an Easter egg hunt in one's neighborhood by hanging Easter eggs on a window or door.

 For more information about COVID-19, visit www.tchhsa.org/ncov and www.covid19.tularecounty.ca.gov

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