The CDC Vaccine Tracker shows, as of this morning, 74.9% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older have received their first dose, while 59.4% are fully vaccinated.By Nicole Ford

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — The state Department of Health says it will officially be lifting the order requiring universal masking at midnight on Monday.

They say the CDC Vaccine Tracker shows, as of this morning, 74.9% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older have received their first dose, while 59.4% are fully vaccinated.

Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said in a statement, “As we shift to wearing masks less often, it is important to remain resilient in the fight against COVID-19, just as we have done together over the last year and a half. The COVID-19 vaccines are the best tools we have to defeat COVID-19. Pennsylvanians are aware of this and have been getting vaccinated. If you have not already been vaccinated, there are plenty of options available near you. Getting as many Pennsylvanians vaccinated as possible will offer more protection against the virus for everyone and is the fastest and safest way for us to return to our normal activities.”

The universal face coverings order was first issued on April 2020, again on Nov. 18, 2020, and a third time on March 17, 2021.

It will now be lifted at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, June 28.

“It kind of feels like the end to a very troublesome era,” said Matt Szalankiewicz.

However, the Health Department is continuing to urge all Pennsylvanians to follow CDC guidance for “wearing a mask where required by law, rule, and regulations, including healthcare, local business and workplace guidance.”

They also advise those individuals who have not yet been vaccinated or are partially vaccinated to continue masking in public.

Allegheny Health Network Dr. Randolph Peters told KDKA’s Nicole Ford that the unvaccinated population should still be on alert.

“Your chance of running into somebody with the disease is very low because there are very few people walking around with it right now. But your chance of catching it if you do is insanely high,” Dr. Peters said.

He told KDKA that data shows the variants are spreading, but the vaccines are holding up against them. So KDKA asked him if it’s safe for vaccinated people to toss out the mask?

“Yes, continue to follow. You are doing what you’ve always done so continue to follow the public health guidelines, and the public health guidelines are less strict because we’ve earned that right,” Dr. Peters said.

As for kids, who are still ineligible to receive the vaccine, it is recommended by doctors to have them keep wearing masks.

For more of the CDC’s masking guidance, visit their website here.