By Ryan Howe, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
On New Year’s Day 2015, I stuffed my Dodge Dart with as much as it would carry, said goodbye to my family, and jumped on I-70 West toward Denver. I had graduated college the month before and would be starting work at my new job in four short days. I had achieved new status in my adulthood and could finally start living independently.
Six hours into the 16-hour drive, my car broke down. Stranded on the side of the interstate alone in the middle of winter, unsure of what to do at the moment and scared I was stuck in Missouri for eternity, I started to panic. Then, I did what I always do when life’s stressors become too big – I called my mom.
After calming my nerves and helping me develop a game plan, she ended the call by jokingly saying, “I thought you didn’t need us anymore, Ryan. Independence is harder than you thought it was going to be, huh?”
Six years later, and independence is still way harder than I thought it was going to be. I still lean on my mom to help me navigate life. Even though we are states apart, she’s helped me move on from bad breakups, cope with the onset of a chronic health condition, make career decisions, and salvage many cooking disasters.
To show my appreciation for all the weight she lifts off my shoulders, I fly home every Mother’s Day so she can have all nine of her children together at least once a year. Last year, the pandemic ended that tradition, and the best I could do was call and tell her I love her. This year, my mom requested another virtual Mother’s Day, despite being fully vaccinated.
“I may be safe from all this, but think about all the other moms who aren’t. We’ve lost enough already,” she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 105 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That means nearly one-third of the population has gotten a Johnson & Johnson dose or has received the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine at least two weeks ago.
In light of this, the CDC issued new guidance that gives fully vaccinated adults a chance to start “getting back to normal” again. Here are what fully vaccinated people can do safely:
Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
Visit with unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
Participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues.
Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States.
Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings.
Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic.
Refrain from routine screening testing if asymptomatic and feasible.
For people who live relatively close to mom, these new guidelines break down significant barriers and allow folks to give their mom one (or many) a long hug, hold her hand, and kiss her on the cheek.
If you’re not yet fully vaccinated, you’ll need to continue to avoid in-person gatherings with people outside your immediate household. But you can still have a memorable Mother’s Day by connecting virtually.
My mom was right; we’ve lost enough moms to this pandemic already. So be aware of others around you and reach out to someone who might not be celebrating the holiday for the first time.
Stopping the COVID-19 pandemic means continuing to use every tool we have available — including vaccination, masking, physical distancing, and hand washing. Doing this will keep most of our moms safe and healthy.