Long-term care organizations just received two bits of very encouraging news.

First are the latest results from the NIC Executive Survey Insights series. They show market fundamentals clearly trending in a positive direction. In fact, 40%-to-57% of participating organizations reported an uptick in occupancy levels. Any way you slice it, more head in beds (or in units, as the case may be) is surely welcome.

That’s especially the case as we continue to grapple with the worst pandemic in our lifetimes.

Then there’s this: The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention announced fully-vaccinated people can forgo their masks and social distancing in many indoor and outdoor situations.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic, ” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D.

Taken together, these new developments certainly create a high-water mark of sorts. Think about it: Higher occupancy and reduced mask wearing. How long have we waited for one to occur, much less both?

Not that we’re finally in the clear. Walensky added that people who are vaccinated but develop symptoms should mask up and get tested. She also noted that there’s a chance the pandemic situation could worsen, fueling a regression. So there’s that.

Still, if things keep improving at this rate, we may soon start to feel, well, normal. Who would have guessed something so mundane could be so liberating?

John O’Connor is Editorial Director for McKnight’s.