Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday that the entire state would be able to re-open without many of the COVID-19 restrictions by mid-June, as long as the vaccine supply is sufficient and the hospital rate remains low.
A statewide mask mandate would likely remain, but other restrictions detailed in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy would likely come to an end by June 15.
“We can confidently say by June 15 that we can start to open up as business as usual, subject to ongoing mask-wearing and ongoing vigilance,” Newsom said. “So, this is a big day."
The announcement came as the California Department of Public Health announced that a total of 4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to Californians in some of the state's hardest-hit communities, increasing immunity where the state's transmission rates and disease burden have been the highest during the pandemic.
"California is making great progress in administering COVID-19 vaccine doses," said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California's Health and Human Services Agency. "We must continue to do our best to vaccinate Californians as safely and quickly as possible. Our vaccine equity focus remains the right thing to do and ensures we are having the greatest impact in reducing transmission, protecting our health care delivery system and saving lives."
With the state meeting the equity metrics, the CDPH updated the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The purple tier (widespread) threshold will remain at greater than 10 cases per 100,000; the red tier (substantial) case rate range will narrow to 6-10 cases per 100,000; and the orange tier (moderate) case rate range will shift to 2-5.9 cases per 100,0000. The yellow tier (minimal) case rate range will shift to less than 2 cases per 100,000.
In the Blueprint update, CDPH also added an additional metric that will be reviewed before a county moves to a more restrictive tier. During the weekly tier assessment, if a county's adjusted case rate and/or test positivity has fallen within a more restrictive tier for two consecutive weeks, the state reviews the county's most recent 10 days of data – and now, also hospitalization data, to determine if there are signs of improvement to indicate the county can remain in the less restrictive tier.
On Tuesday, the CDPH moved 16 counties into less restrictive tiers. Counties moving to less restrictive tiers include Contra Costa, El Dorado, Humboldt, Imperial, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, Riverside, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Tulare, and Ventura. The updated tier assignments take effect on Wednesday.
Stanislaus County was able to remain in the red tier because the case rate has remained fairly stable at 12.5 new cases per day per 100,000 residents and the positivity rate was at 4.8 percent. Stanislaus was able to previously move into the red tier because the testing positivity rate has been in that tier's metric for several weeks.
Newsom said he expects 30 million doses of vaccine to be administered by the end of April, putting the state on track to at least partially inoculate most of the estimated 32 million people 16 and up who will be eligible for the vaccine starting next week. Roughly 7.5 million residents are fully vaccinated, and 6 million are partially inoculated.
Businesses would still be expected to take “common-sense risk reduction measures” such as wearing masks and encouraging vaccinations. Most capacity limits for businesses and recreational activities will be lifted, although larger indoor events, such as conventions, will be allowed only with testing or vaccination verification requirements, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said.
As of Tuesday, Stanislaus County has recorded 53,140 COVID-19 cases and 1,007 deaths from the virus.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.