DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations fall, Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Phil Huang said triumph is within reach.

“It’s certainly still too early to totally declare victory, but we’re moving in the right direction,” he said.

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He said that’s dependent, though, on people getting vaccinated – and those who aren’t continuing to wear masks.

According to DCHHS, just over 50% of those 12 and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine, both in Dallas County and across the state.

Dr. Huang worries that there’s a misconception that mask recommendations have been lifted for everyone, especially after Governor Abbott’s executive order prohibiting government entities from mandating masks.

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“For those who aren’t vaccinated, then they don’t have that protection,” Dr. Huang said. “The message absolutely is not that they don’t have to wear masks.”

Maddie Montgomery of Louisiana said she is not vaccinated and wears a mask only when it’s required.

“If I need to, I will. If I don’t, I won’t,” she said.

Dr. Huang hopes the CDC’s recommendations – mask-free only when fully vaccinated – will encourage those on the fence to do just that.

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“That should be a greater incentive for people who haven’t received the vaccine yet. It shows how you can, once you get the vaccine, you can start getting back to living a normal life, as we all want.”