With health care workers and residents of long-term-care facilities receiving first doses of COVID-19 vaccines, Americans can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But make no mistake — we’re still very much in the tunnel.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds doesn’t seem to understand this as she has rolled back some measures and began the legislative session without a mask mandate in the Capitol. Iowans getting groceries, going to church or attending school are wearing masks, so why wouldn’t lawmakers?

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Then, to make matters worse, more than 200 people who were not wearing masks gathered in the Capitol rotunda on Monday to protest rules intended to slow the spread of the virus, such as mask mandates.

Among the lawmakers to address the group was Iowa Sen. Dennis Guth, R-Klemme. Guth told the protesters that from his study of COVID-19, he doesn’t believe wearing masks is an effective means of limiting the spread of the virus.

We’re not sure what Guth’s study entails, given that his degree is in agricultural mechanization, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing masks in public spaces and around people outside of our immediate households. The CDC cites numerous scientific studies that indicate wearing masks helps protect both the wearer and the people around them.

Meanwhile, Reynolds last week lifted the limitations on spectators at sports and recreational events. While high school sports had been limited to the households of student-athletes, those limits are no longer in place.

This doesn’t seem like the right time to reverse course and start lifting restrictions.

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that January doesn’t look like we’re turning a corner. It could, in fact, be a peak.

It took about three months last year to record the first 2 million cases of COVID-19 nationwide. This year, it took 10 days to add 2.2 million cases.

In those same 10 days, there were more than 27,000 COVID-19-related deaths across the country. If this rate were to continue, January could be COVID-19’s deadliest month to date in the U.S. Last Thursday was the first time the U.S. had a single-day death toll of more than 4,000. COVID-19 hospitalizations remain above 100,000 nationwide and have been that way since just after Thanksgiving.

It’s not the time to let our guards down. Yes, it has been a long haul, and people have grown weary of the restrictions. Vaccines are on the way.

Citizens must hold out a bit longer and continue to mask up and be careful.

Our elected officials, like Governor Reynolds, should have taken a stand in support of safety protocols. It’s disappointing most Republican lawmakers followed her lead and refuse to follow the scientific guidance behind wearing masks.

Iowans are going to have to show they can be sensible, follow the science and take care of one another just the same.

Editorials reflect the consensus of the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board.