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COVID isn't over: Doctor explains when it'll be safe to travel, eat out again

Iowa is still experiencing high levels of COVID-19 transmission, even with vaccine rollout underway.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Some folks in central Iowa are starting to travel and go out like they did before the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything, and doctors are warning activities like this could cause more harm than good if not done safely.

MercyOne Des Moines infectious disease expert Dr. Ravi Vemuri said Iowans shouldn't start celebrating the end of COVID until 70% of the population is vaccinated and community transmission is low.

Community spread of the virus is still high in Iowa, according to Vemuri. 

However, Dr. Vemuri said Iowans can travel or go out to restaurants if they are practicing safe mitigation tactics.

“As long as you protect your mucus membranes, which is your eyes your nose and your mouth, and you wash your hands a lot you should be pretty safe," he said.

RELATED: State reports 1 additional COVID-19 death and 666 more cases

The American Automobile Association reported over half of Iowans are comfortable taking a trip right now. The Des Moines International Airport, also, shows an increase of people flying.

The Iowa Restaurant Association told Local 5 they've seen in uptick in people going out to eat too.

“Personally, I have not been in a restaurant for over a year," said Dr. Vemuri.

He said if Iowans can eat outside that's a plus, but they still need to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines, even if they're fully vaccinated:

  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Practice social distancing of at least six feet 
  • Stay home when you're sick
  • Get tested
  • Get vaccinated as soon as possible

RELATED: All adults in Iowa now eligible for the vaccine | Learn how to schedule an appointment

Vemuri said Iowa is getting better when it comes to virus activity, but not good enough to act like the pandemic is over. 

As of Thursday, the CDC reports 25% of adults 18 and older are fully vaccinated. 

Watch: What to do before and after you get the vaccine

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