MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In this week’s Clarifying COVID, Dr. George Morris of CentraCare returns to answer questions about COVID-19 pandemic developments. These include questions about herd immunity, reaching 70% vaccination rate before July 1 and more.

Read Morris’ answers below or watch the video above!

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Is herd immunity possible at this point?

How big is the herd that we’re talking about? If this is you know, your school, your workplace, your community, it will be easier to get to a herd immunity level. That can be anywhere from that 70 to 90%. That really helps protect the most people.

We will see pockets that have a higher vaccination rate.

Can Minnesota reach a 70% vaccination rate before July 1?

So we can get there, it will take us about a half a million people. So if you’re thinking weeks, before we get to the end of June, if we want to get to 70% herd immunity, we can pick up the pace. So, encourage your family and friends, ask them to talk to their providers. Tell them the story of why you got vaccinated.

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Will we continue to wear masks after July 1?

I envision a time where after July, it won’t be a mask mandate, but there will be some guidelines or some best practices, you could still say in risky situations. A health care hospital may be one of those risky situations. This is where the most vulnerable are at. Long term care facilities, the most vulnerable are at.

Additionally, I think we will see some people making individual behavior choices: When I have a cold, when I think I have influenza, when I think I have a respiratory illness, or when I’m comfortable, I’m going to wear my mask in public.

We really did a great job this year of getting rid of influenza, and that was primarily by mask wearing, watching our behaviors and staying home when we were ill. I remember so far we’ve only had five deaths related to influenza in Minnesota, whereas typically it’s above 200. So we are saving lives with our masking and our washing our hands and staying home and really decreasing those exposures. We’re saving them for COVID. And we’re saving them for influenza.

The vaccination rate for seniors has hovered around 85% for a few weeks – how are health officials trying to educate and reach the other 15%?

Number one, if they have transportation problems, imagine they’re over 65, but they can’t get to a vaccine site. Throughout the state, we are all doing outreach. And that can include an individual, community paramedic, home health nurse — somebody that will come out to those one-by-one settings.

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The other part is, while I know the numbers are slowing down for our over 65, it hasn’t stopped. We still see a difference from people that have had their first dose and people that have completed their series. And that’s a nice thing to think about. So as a state, while it’s a slower climb, you know, above 80% 85%, close to 90%. It still is rising. We should all be grateful for that.