LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — If COVID-19 trends continue to improve, California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state can do away with the colored tier system by June 15.
Discarding the colored tier system will allow restrictions to be lifted from all businesses, gatherings and recreational activities. However, a statewide mask mandate will remain in place. State officials say the full reopening depends on meeting two criteria — hospitalization rates stay low and stable, and there are enough supplies to vaccinate all Californians 16 and older who want one.
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“Moving past the dimmer switch” was made possible by the state administering 20 million vaccine doses as of Tuesday, according to Newsom. He said California has administered 7 million more doses than any other state. And more importantly, 4 million of those doses were administered to communities in hard-hit areas, Newsom said.
“We can confidently say, by June 15, that we can start to open as business as usual,” he said at a news conference in San Francisco.
Newsom said that death rates are down and case rates have stabilized to the point that California has the lowest positivity rate in the nation at 1.6%. Sixteen counties move into a less restrictive tier of reopening Tuesday, including Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
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The June 15 date also hinges on the expected increase in vaccine supplies in April and May.
However, because of the number of variants that are circulating in California, the mask mandate will remain in place. Newsom said public health officials have tracked 851 cases of the UK variant, 10 of the South African variant, 35 of the Brazilian variant, and 9,400 of the West Coast variant. Variants from India and New York are also a concern, he said.
“It’s incumbent upon all of us not to announce ‘mission accomplished,’ not to put down our guard, but to continue that vigilance that got us where we are today — the lowest case rates, positivity rates in America,” he said.
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This is a breaking news story. More information will be added as it comes in.