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Doctors Don’t Project Return Of Large Gatherings Until Fall At Earliest


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — With millions of doses of the vaccine expected over the next few months, the end of the coronavirus pandemic may seem closer on the horizon. However, doctors said it could still be several months before things start to look normal again.

Dr. Todd Vento, medical director of infectious diseases at Intermountain Healthcare, broke it down into what life will likely look like this spring, summer and fall.

Spring 2021

In the spring, Utahns won’t notice much of a difference, unfortunately. But the good news is cases will likely continue to decline as they have been so far.

“I think you fast-forward to the spring months — March to May — and you see more and more of the same if we don’t see new mutations,” Vento said.

Doctors warned variants of the virus are what we need to watch out for the most, but as more people get the vaccine, they said more people will be comfortable getting together in smaller gatherings.

Summer 2021

This summer, on the other hand, could feel a lot closer to normal life. The combination of widespread vaccinations and warmer weather will likely make many activities much safer, including larger gatherings.

“’OK, you’re all vaccinated? Let’s have a Fourth of July gathering,’” said Vento. “That might be something I would expect.”

How about summer vacations?

Vento said we still need to be careful because of the new strains, but airplanes will likely fill up.

“Do I think there will be more travel? Absolutely, because I think we are tired of not being able to go and do the things we were going to do and visit the people we wanted to visit,” said Vento.

On top of that, Gov. Spencer Cox has said Utah could begin to remove its mask mandate for certain counties once enough people are vaccinated. That could happen in some areas by late June.

Fall/Winter 2021

Some experts expected a resurgence of the virus in the fall and winter, but most of the U.S. population should be vaccinated by then.

There was even a chance that indoor concerts and sporting events might come back — but Vento said that was wishful thinking.

“We don’t know that. Even say if 70% of America is vaccinated, what if people who go to the concert are not vaccinated and you put 100,000 people together within one foot of each other? We know the vaccines are not 100% effective, but they’re certainly very good,” said Vento.

What the new normal long term?

COVID-19 will likely never fully go away, but Vento thinks we’ve learned some good things from it.  He believes healthy practices like wearing masks and staying home when you’re sick will become a much more normal thing well into the future.

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