(CNN)As the US celebrated Memorial Day, health experts celebrated that more than half of the population was at least partially vaccinated — but reminded the public there is work to still be done to keep the next holiday safe from Covid-19 as well.
“It’s great news that people can see their friends, they feel comfortable to travel because they’re vaccinated,” William Haseltine, former Harvard Medical School professor told CNN. “The bad news is if you are not vaccinated, you are still at risk, and your risk is about as high as it was before.”Crowds flocked to beaches and bars over the weekend, a sight that experts said was less concerning now that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 50.5% of the population have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 40.7% are fully vaccinated.”It feels very, very close to normal,” Santa Monica, California, resident Bob Alfera told CNN. “And it’s nice to see people really all in a good mood.”Vaccinated Americans are celebrating the 1st big holiday safely without masks. But for some, returning to normal is not so easyThe feeling was in stark contrast to a year ago, when disregard for social distancing at many beaches and video of a crowded pool party at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri — which showed many people crammed inside and outside a pool — had health experts fearing that spikes were around the corner. Read MoreThe next month, at least 16 states paused or rolled back their reopening plans to combat surges.This year, President Joe Biden has set the goal for 70% of the population to have received at least one dose by July 4. And from another million-dollar drawing in Ohio to mobile vaccine units sent to densely populated parts in New York, officials are ramping up efforts to reach that target. Signs of normalcyFrom residential care facilities to airports, much of the US has started to look more like it did before the virus.Memorial Day weekend is first maskless holiday in over a year for many Americans as mandates liftOn Monday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released updated guidance allowing fully vaccinated people to go without a mask in most places in residential care facilities, according to a release.That same day was expected to be the busiest of the pandemic at US airports. The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 7 million people from Thursday to Sunday. On Friday, the TSA screened 1.96 million people.And travel industry experts say this will likely be a busy summer. On Monday, United Airlines said bookings for June through August are more than double the numbers from last year.In New Orleans, there was a Mardi Gras-style parade over the weekend after months of delay — and 50,000 people showed up.”It feels amazing,” Jefferson Parish Resident Kelley Cartner said. “To be here with family and friends, it’s just amazing.”Warnings of continued danger Although some experts, like professor of medicine Dr. Jonathan Reiner, encouraged those who are vaccinated to go out and have fun over the weekend, they also warned of the danger that persists for unvaccinated Americans. Unvaccinated people are still at risk as the US celebrates Memorial Day weekend maskless Any country that thinks the danger has passed is wrong, said World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.”We’re very encouraged that cases and deaths are continuing to decline globally, but it would be a monumental error for any country to think the danger has passed,” he said.”One day — hopefully soon — the pandemic will be behind us. But the psychological scars will remain for those who have lost loved ones, health workers who have been stretched beyond breaking point. and the millions of people of all ages confronted with months of loneliness and isolation.”The mayor of Miami Beach, a popular destination over the weekend, worried that “too many people are coming” to his scenic, coastal city.”The virus is still here,” Mayor Dan Gelber said. “The volume of people that have been coming here is very unprecedented.”