The administering of 2 million COVID-19 vaccines to some of the hardest hit communities in California is prompting the state's health department to revise the reopening plan and allow more counties to move to less restrictive tiers, but Stanislaus County has still missed the mark.
The California Department of Public Health announced on Friday that 2 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.
"With this equity metric met, and because vaccines slow the spread of disease and serious illness, the previously announced update to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy to account for progress with vaccine administration goes into effect," the department said in a news release.
After reassessment using new thresholds, 13 counties will move to a less restrictive tier, from Purple (widespread) to Red (substantial): Amador, Colusa, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Mendocino, Mono, Orange, Placer, San Benito, San Bernardino, Siskiyou, Sonoma and Tuolumne. These changes will take effect on Sunday.
On Tuesday, the CDPH expects Sacramento, San Diego, Kings, Lake, Monterey, Riverside, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, Ventura and Yuba to shift from Purple to Red based on current data and projections. These tier adjustments will be assigned on Tuesday and take effect on Wednesday.
Twenty-one counties will remain in the Purple (widespread) Tier, including Stanislaus County. Thirty-three will be in the Red (substantial) Tier, three remain in the Orange (moderate) Tier and one remains in the Yellow (minimal) Tier.
There is potential for additional counties to move tiers based on next week’s Blueprint tier assessment and assignment. Going forward, the Purple Tier threshold is greater than 10 cases per 100,000 people. Even under that metric, Stanislaus County might not be able to move down a tier. As of Tuesday, Stanislaus County had 13.4 new COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 population with an equity adjustment of 13.6 per 100,000.
“California is doubling down on its mission to keep equity a top priority as we continue to get COVID-19 doses into the arms of all Californians as safely and quickly as possible,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency. “Focusing on the individuals who have been hardest hit by this pandemic is the right thing to do and also ensures we are having the greatest impact in reducing transmission, protecting our health care delivery system and saving lives.”
As of Friday, Stanislaus County has been allocated 121,870 vaccines. There have been 51,594 positive cases and 963 deaths.
On March 4, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state had set aside 40 percent of vaccine doses for the hardest-hit communities and established an equity metric to increase vaccinations in those communities. Doing so recognizes that the pandemic did not affect California communities equally. Forty percent of COVID cases and deaths have occurred in the lowest quartile of the Healthy Places Index, which provides overall scores and data that predict life expectancy and compares community conditions that shape health across the state.
“While we have reached a milestone today, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to help ensure we can put an end to this pandemic,” said Tomás Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer. “We must all do our part by getting vaccinated as soon as it’s our turn and continue to wear masks and practice physical distancing to keep our communities safe.”
The Blueprint will be updated again when 4 million doses have been administered in the vaccine equity quartile.