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Here's what you should and shouldn't do on Easter

A USF molecular epidemiologist weighs in on the coronavirus risk level associated with a few Easter traditions. Hint: Being vaccinated matters!

TAMPA, Fla. — We've come a long way since Easter 2020, for better or worse.

Last year at Easter time, our pandemic journey was in its infancy. A virtual egg hunt with grandparents was almost fun and a parking lot church service felt innovative.

Admit it, streaming the Vatican's Easter mass was pretty neat. You might even keep that tradition.

But after a year of this, we're so ready for hugs and worship and bunny visits and togetherness.

Easter 2021 looks a bit more normal, but medical experts are warning we're not there yet. Why? Because the COVID variants are now dominant across many states including Florida and they spread more easily, plus, we don't have enough people vaccinated.

RELATED: Vaccines vs. variants: 'We’re still neck and neck,' doctor says

We talked with Dr. Jill Roberts, a molecular epidemiologist specializing in emerging disease, about what we should consider before partaking in our usual Easter festivities.

GOING TO CHURCH

First of all, Dr. Roberts explains the answer is not a 'one size fits all' and the biggest factor is whether or not you and your loved ones are vaccinated.

"I think you need to assess your own risk," said Roberts.

In a nutshell, Roberts says you should only consider attending an indoor, traditional service if you're fully vaccinated and you should still wear a mask. Being fully vaccinated means fourteen days after you've received both doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine or the single-dose Johnson and Johnson shot.

Otherwise, it's best you try to find an outdoor, drive-by, or virtual service.

"There’s too much risk with coronavirus spreading in closed spaces especially with singing," said Dr. Roberts.

RELATED: Tampa Bay churches are offering a mix of virtual, outdoor and indoor services

EASTER EGG HUNT

This gets tricky because children are not yet vaccinated so Dr. Roberts advises against any type of huge gathering with a bunch of strangers close to one another.

The good news- the hunt can done outside and most of our kids have gotten really good at wearing masks by now.

"If we had a small number of kids in an outdoor environment, we didn’t break our usual bubbles or if we did, we socially distanced, we did this responsibly in an outdoor environment, this can probably be done. A hundred kids? No way. Less than 10, that’s manageable," said Roberts.

EASTER MEAL

Again, we're back to the vaccinated factor.

If your entire guest list is fully vaccinated, Dr. Roberts says you can have a traditional gathering.

However, the majority of families aren't in that situation- younger adults in Florida aren't eligible for the vaccine until the Monday after Easter and the FDA hasn't authorized use of the vaccine in kids yet.

The same rules that applied the end of last year during the holiday season, apply now. The difference- a young, healthy family can now have over vaccinated grandparents. 

The CDC says fully vaccinated people can visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.

"We don’t want to throw all the guidelines out the window and have a peak occur after Easter. I hope that doesn’t happen," said Roberts.

RELATED: CDC issues new travel guidance for fully vaccinated Americans

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