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Is life back to normal? Almost. But health experts say don't throw away your masks just yet.

Cases and hospitalizations are down nearly 30 percent and Houston is coming alive, but that does not mean the pandemic is over.

HOUSTON — Around Houston, it feels like life is pretty much back to normal. Health experts say we're close, but not quite there yet. 

"There's no question that things are going down," said infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Hotez.

COVID-19 is retreating locally. Cases and hospitalizations down nearly 30 percent and Houston is coming alive. 

Travis Scott takes the stage this weekend. Megan Thee Stallion is up next month. The concerts are back. Stadiums are packed, and the holidays are fast approaching.

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"We still should not be high fiving ourselves and saying we're out of this," said Hotez.

Hotez says the trends are encouraging, but only about 54% of all Texans are fully vaccinated. That's less than the national rate and not good enough to wipe out COVID-19 for good.

"There's still enough unvaccinated people that we could still see a significant surge," said Hotez. 

There was a similar surge one year ago after the holidays. 

"There's still a lot of opportunity for this virus to cause a lot of damage," said Hotez. 

Hotez says if you're vaccinated you should go out and feel safe enjoying yourself, but just be cautious. Wear a mask, especially in large indoor crowds. 

"We have the ability to snuff out this virus, we're just choosing not to do so," said Hotez.

The best thing you can do to ensure a safe holiday season is to get you and your family fully vaccinated ASAP.

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