WACO, TX — For the first time since June, McLennan County is down to a "community spread" level of threat.
This week, the city of Waco is entering Phase 1 of reopening, with city-operated museums and venues continuing to operate with the same restrictions in place.
Outdoor events on city property will be allowed with restrictions and safety precautions. Conventions and meetings can be held at 75% occupancy with restrictions.
The city council is discussing the timing of meeting in-person, while public participation will remain virtual.
"This past year has been a hard one, but we're close to the finish line. To those citizens who have helped elderly neighbors sign up get those vaccines, to the nurses and the teachers and the front-line workers, thank you so much for your hard work," said Waco Mayor Dillon Meek.
Dr. Jackson Griggs with Waco Family Medicine says things are looking up.
"We are seeing less spread, fewer people infected by this virus, which of course translates to fewer individuals struggling with the ramifications from hospitalizations, fewer deaths," he said.
But Central Texas is not out of the woods just yet. Health officials say they still don't know the impact from Spring Break or from Governor Greg Abbott's lift of the statewide mask mandate.
"We really really encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Don't hesitate. The sooner we get more people in the community vaccinated, the closer we are to moving back to a more normal everyday life," said Lashonda Malrey-Horne, director of the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District.
Right now there is a wait-list for vaccines, which is expected to get longer as vaccination eligibility expands to all adults.
The elderly or those with more vulnerable populations will still take priority.
"Even if you're vaccinated, please continue using the mask, because you could be the carrier with somebody else that you're coming in touch with," said Dr. Umad Ahmad, Interim Chief Medical Officer with Baylor Scott & White - Hillcrest.
The health district says they are working to make the vaccines more "equitably available," and urge you to contact them if there's an area you feel could benefit from a vaccination site.
If you want to sign up for a vaccination, visit covidwaco.com or call (254) 750-1890.