L.A. County enters red tier, prompting additional reopenings Monday; vaccine eligibility expands to disabled, additional essential workers

Restaurant guests enjoy an outdoor dining experience at Salt Creek Grille in Valencia Monday afternoon. November 23, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Los Angeles County has met the metric to move into the red tier, prompting additional reopenings that include movie theaters and indoor dining at restaurants, and the path being cleared for the return to campus for seventh- to 12th-grade students, all of which goes into effect Monday. 

L.A. County Department of Public Health officials made the announcement Friday after the adjusted case rate for COVID-19 infections dropped to 5.2 cases per 100,000 residents, with a 3.2% test positivity rate. The state also met the vaccination threshold of 2 million doses administered in under-resourced communities. 

“We’re pleased to see the county is moving in the right direction,” said Ivan Volschenk, managing partner at Evolve Business Strategies, which manages the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce. “We’re very glad to see businesses that weren’t able to reopen before have been given the green light, but there’s much more to work on in regards to health and safety so other sectors can reopen.” 

The county’s health officer order was updated to reflect the state’s guidance stating key sectors that are permitted to reopen do so at a limited capacity and enforce face coverings, physical distancing and infection control practices. 

The William S. Hart Union High School District, anticipating the move to the red tier, has planned on March 29 as the date when students will begin returning to campus. 

“These reopenings are the result of a great deal of hard work and sacrifice by businesses and individuals alike,” said Muntu Davis, health officer of Public Health during a press conference Friday. “As certain activities are allowed to resume, we urge all residents to proceed with caution. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline, but still remain high.” 

The state is also expanding vaccine eligibility to include residents with qualifying disabilities starting Monday. Guidance was released by the California Department of Public Health Friday to say verification of disability will not be asked, citing patient confidentiality. Instead, residents will be asked to sign a self-attestation that they meet the criteria for high-risk medical conditions or disabilities. 

Public Health officials also announced additional sectors of essential workers will be eligible to make COVID-19 vaccination appointments starting Monday. 

These sectors include public transit workers and janitorial or custodial workers. 

Vaccination appointments will be available for eligible sectors on designated days next week, and are divided as follows: 

  • Monday and Tuesday – food and agriculture. 
  • Wednesday – emergency services, public transit and janitorial/custodial. 
  • Thursday – residents age 65 and older and those with medical conditions. 
  • Friday and Saturday – Educators. 
  • Sunday – medical conditions and educators. 

Agriculture workers will be able to make vaccine appointments starting Sunday at the Six Flags Magic Mountain site. 

To date, the county has administered 2.7 million doses of the vaccine, with 70% of next week’s allocation be reserved for more first doses. 

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