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California to eliminate tier system June 15th

California to eliminate tier system June 15th

California will retire its color-coded pandemic blueprint on June 15 and allow almost all sectors of the economy to reopen at or near full capacity if the state continues to meet vaccination goals and keep COVID-19 hospitalizations low, state officials said Tuesday.

The reopening will apply across all 58 counties, and allow almost all types of businesses and activities to resume at or near pre-pandemic levels.

The state will retain its mask mandate indefinitely, though, to protect those who will not be immunized soon, which mostly includes children who are not yet approved for vaccines, state officials said.

“This is a big day in terms of the pandemic,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom during a news conference at the City College vaccination site in San Francisco Tuesday. “We will be moving beyond the blueprint and getting rid of colored tiers, moving past the dimmer switch. Getting rid of the blueprint as you know it today. That’s on June 15 if we continue our good work.”

The announcement came as the state reached 20 million vaccinations administered — more than any other U.S. state. California has given more shots than all but five countries in the world, Newsom said Tuesday.

In eight and a half weeks, state officials expect to have enough vaccine that every person 16 and older in California will be able to make an appointment and get their shots in a timely manner. And they anticipate hospitalizations due to COVID-19 to remain very low. Those are the two key measures to reopening the economy, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California Health and Human Services.

Ghaly said California’s leaders are making their commitment to fully reopen “with a great deal of hope and optimism.”

“We are at the stage where we’re ready to consider the next aspect of our pandemic response,” Ghaly said in a news conference Tuesday morning. “This means an end to our color-coded tiers. We can go to the movies and the beach and see family.”

The June 15 target is based on an assumption that vaccine supply will increase dramatically in California over the next two months, and that by that date every Californian 16 years and older who wants to be vaccinated will have already had their first shot or be able to easily make an appointment.

The state plans to open vaccines to all-comers on April 15. Though supply will likely remain tight at first and not everyone will be able to make appointments immediately, state officials said they believe that will change quickly. Newsom said Tuesday he is aiming for 30 million vaccinations to have been administered by the end of the month.

“We’ll be watching that pretty closely: watching the supply coming in, and making sure we have adequate supply of both the vaccine and the appointments,” Ghaly said.

The second critical metric will be hospitalizations, Ghaly said. California this week dropped below 2,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 for the first time since April last year. If those numbers stay low, state officials said they will feel confident that the virus is under control.

But they will monitor that metric over the next two months and after June 15, and especially pay attention to whether people who have been vaccinated are getting infected and being hospitalized, which could be a sign that dangerous variants that evade vaccines are starting to spread, Ghaly said.

Ghaly said he anticipates professional sports in stadiums, concerts and festivals to return at full capacity, but with masking and other mitigation measures in place.

Convention centers will require vaccinations and negative coronavirus tests until at least Oct. 1, Ghaly said.

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