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California to hit vaccination milestone next week and trigger reopening – Deadline

The announced relaxation of Covid-19 guidelines across California on Friday is likely the prelude to a much wider reopening.

For weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom reminded residents that the state is tying the easing of restrictions to equity in vaccines. That is, the sooner the state’s under-served communities are vaccinated, the sooner authorities will allow everyone to ease restrictions.

A few weeks ago, the governor ordered 40% of the state’s vaccine supply earmarked for underserved communities. He also established two key thresholds that would trigger wider reopenings: first when vaccinations in the lowest economic quartile reach 2 million and second when the same population receives 4 million doses. California crossed 2 million vaccinations in this quartile on March 12. Barely 3 weeks later, the state is on the verge of crossing the 4 million threshold.

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Newsom told San Diego officials on Friday that he was forecasting “four million next week.” As he spoke, the state was reporting 3,730,000 vaccinations in the lowest economic quartile of residents. See the table below. Given that the number of vaccinations administered among this group has exceeded 100,000 in the past 24 hours, it is a safe bet that the state will cross four million very soon.

via CA state

So what will happen to 4 million? For one thing, counties will have a much easier time progressing through the state’s color-coded reopening levels. Los Angeles County, for example, is part of the Orange level of the state. Currently, its number of new cases per 100,000 population is expected to drop below 1 to bring the county to yellow level. LA currently sits at an adjusted rate of 3.1 cases per 100,000. Orange County is at 2.9 per 100,000. However, once the lowest economic quartile’s immunization count reaches 4 million, the threshold for yellow becomes 2 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants. See the table below. Orange and Los Angeles counties have a chance to make that figure next week.

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Graph showing revised AC vaccine levels after 4 million vaccinations in the lowest economic quartile
via CA state

The transition to the yellow level does not mean much for cinemas, which would remain at 50% of their capacity. But this would allow theme parks such as Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and Magic Mountain to increase capacity by 10%, to 35% in total. Parks would also be allowed to increase indoor dining capacity to 50% and sell tickets at the door.

The yellow level could also have advantages for larger concert halls, sports halls and theaters. While the capacity is limited to 10% or 2000 people, it increases to 50% if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination.

And what is beyond the yellow level?

“Finally [we’ll be] get to a green level, which we’ll talk about a lot more next week, ”Newsom said on Friday.

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