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If you look all around, the signs are inescapable. Pima County—along with the rest of the state and the nation—is slowly reopening following the horrible COVID-19 pandemic.

The race to beat the pandemic is not close to being over. In fact, there remains much work to be done. However, the finish line seems to be on the horizon.

After more than a year of closures, restrictions, social distancing, working from home and far too many deaths and illnesses, families and friends are getting back together for backyard barbecues and other social gatherings. Restaurants are starting to seat more people at their tables. Traffic on our streets and highways seems pretty close to normal. And those masks—oh, those pesky masks—are being worn less often in workplaces and among groups whose members are fully vaccinated.

None of this would have been possible without the efforts of everyone in Pima County, especially health care workers and volunteers, who have been laboring tirelessly to get people vaccinated.

District 3, which I am proud to represent as its supervisor, has done its part to push the vaccination effort forward. According to the most recent data from the Pima County Health Department, about 64% of adults in Marana are fully vaccinated. The Ajo Unified School District is among the top three districts in the county for vaccination rates among adults, coming in at 60%, and Marana Unified (52%) ranks sixth among the county’s 14 districts.

Meanwhile, unincorporated areas of Pima County have a 54% adult population that is fully vaccinated, so there is still room for improvement.

We must continue this momentum and encourage our friends and relatives who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 to get their shots. The fastest way to return to life as we used to know it is to defeat the pandemic. And the best tools we have to defeat the pandemic are the vaccines that are plentiful and available all over Pima County.

As part of this effort, the county has provided thousands of vaccine doses to the Marana Health Center to make sure that people in Avra Valley and Marana are getting their shots close to home without having to drive to vaccination pods in the center of Tucson or on the south side.

As I stated, the finish line to defeating the pandemic is getting closer, but we’re not there yet. That’s why it is important to continue to wear a mask if you are not fully vaccinated or if you are around people whose vaccination status is unknown.

That’s why I voted with the majority on the Pima County Board of Supervisors on May 14 to ease mask restrictions in certain situations, in line with the updated recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC guidelines are straightforward. If you are fully vaccinated and you are in the company of other fully vaccinated people anywhere, you don’t need to wear a mask. If you are outdoors, you don’t need to wear a mask. It’s only in some indoor situations when you are unsure of others’ vaccination status that a mask might be recommended. Certain businesses and organizations, however, might still require that you mask up.

The bottom line is this: Getting vaccinated is the fastest way for Pima County and the rest of society to beat the pandemic. With a united community effort, we might soon be able to bring back what we’ve all been missing—normalcy.

 

Sharon Bronson represents District 3 on the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

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