Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday a plan to fully reopen California’s economy by June 15 — if vaccine and hospitalization numbers remain stable.
The move would eliminate the state’s four-tiered system, allowing the entire state to reopen at the same time and “everyday activities” to resume, though the state could revise the June 15 target date if needed.
The full reopening is expected to be contingent on two conditions: vaccine supply must be sufficient for Californians 16 and older who wish to be inoculated and hospitalizations must remain “stable and low,” while exact figures on these conditions were not given.
“With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California’s economy,” Newsom said in a prepared statement. “We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic. We will need to remain vigilant and continue the practices that got us here – wearing masks and getting vaccinated – but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”
All sectors listed in the current blueprint are expected to be able to return to usual operations in compliance with requirements of Cal/OSHA, the state’s workplace safety agency, and with the public health policies in place, such as required masking, testing and encouraging vaccinations, while large-scale indoor events, such as conventions, are set to also be allowed to occur with testing or vaccination verification requirements.
Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, released a statement following the governor’s announcement, calling to end Newsom’s emergency authority.
“It is amazing what a recall can do to eradicate a pandemic,” Wilk said in the statement. “For months, the governor has ignored science and data. If the governor’s predictions hold true, and the ‘recall reopening’ actually happens, this is great news for our students, families and business community. It also means the governor’s emergency authority should come to an end. Because if you believe him, we are out of the woods. Right?”
This comes as the state announced Tuesday it had administered 4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in the state’s hardest-hit communities, again triggering a change in the thresholds for counties to move from tier to tier.
Under the new metric system, counties in the orange tier, like Los Angeles County, can move to the least restrictive, “yellow” tier when their seven-day average adjusted case rate drops to less than two new cases per 100,000 residents per day, which is adjusted depending on the county’s testing volume, as well as a seven-day average test positivity rate of less than 2%.
The county’s seven-day average test positivity rate dropped 0.1% to 1.4%, while its seven-day average case rate is 3.9 per 100,000 residents per day, and its adjusted case rate is 3.1 per 100,000, which remained the same from last week, according to the state’s updated metrics released Tuesday and based on results from the week ending March 27.
“We do anticipate that our metrics will not change significantly this week or next week, based on the case numbers we’ve been reporting,” L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
L.A. County would need to meet the yellow tier metrics and remain in the orange tier for at least three weeks before moving, which would mean the county could enter yellow by early May.
The move comes as more than half of states across the nation have reported rising COVID-19 cases over a seven-day period, which Ferrer said can be attributed to new variants and reopenings.
While vaccination efforts have continued, Ferrer cautioned that the county must remain vigilant, as often the East Coast sees changes a few weeks before the West Coast.
More than 20 million Californians have been vaccinated, while L.A. County has administered 4 million doses as of March 27.
County Public Health officials also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Tuesday:
New COVID-19 cases reported in L.A. County in the past 24 hours: 406
Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 1,222,778
New deaths related to COVID-19 reported: 23
Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 23,292
Hospitalizations countywide: 568; 25% of whom are in the ICU.
Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of April 1: 4, with 1,191 discharged since the onset of the pandemic.
COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 15, 8 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita.
Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 27,305
Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV: 296
Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the city of Santa Clarita as of March 22: 33.4%
Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the SCV as of March 22: 31.8%