With Quick Vaccine Rollout and Diminishing Hospitalization Rates, California Aims to Reopen June 15

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Credit: Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty

By Jess Taylor 

Governor Gavin Newsom released the state plans to reopen on June 15, 2021, 16 months after it closed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Two criteria must be met to do so: vaccine supplies must remain sufficient for all Californians 16 years of age and older who wish to be vaccinated and hospitalization rates must remain stable and low.

California has administered 20 million vaccinations to date. L.A. County has given out 4 million vaccinations alone, considering it was the hardest city hit by the virus in the United States. 

Regular, everyday activities will be permissible, and all businesses can reopen. Basic guidelines, such as wearing a mask and encouraging vaccinations, will be implemented to keep people safe from the virus. Contact tracing and testing to detect new variants will continue to ensure the safety of Californians. Additionally, the state will also be conducting new strategies to monitor hospitalization rates, vaccine access and the vaccine’s efficiency against the virus’s variants. 

Newsom said, “We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic. We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here- wearing masks and getting vaccinated- but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”

Alongside the governor, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the California Health and Human Services Secretary, said, “In order to take the next step, we must continue to do our part to keep this momentum moving in the right direction, and that means continuing to wear a mask and ensuring everyone who is eligible gets the vaccine.”

The Blueprint for a Safer Economy will expire when the state fully reopens the economy. Masking will remain a mandate, as well as testing and vaccination verifications in relevant settings. The cap for convention attendances, such as concerts and sporting events, will be at 5,000 people until Oct. 1, 2021, with testing and vaccination requirements. International conventions will require all attendees to be fully vaccinated. Schools are expected to return in person full-time and must comply with the usual California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Agency’s (Cal/OSHA) emergency temporary standards and public health guidelines.

As for workplaces, they are expected to promote improved indoor ventilation and wear masks indoors and other high-risk settings if it does not alter business operations. Current California Public Health Department and CDC travel guidelines will apply to all Californians and travelers.

The transition from the current Blueprint will use strategies aiming towards statewide immunity. Reopening and expanding the capacity of outdoor sectors will be established and indoor capacities will also increase with proof of testing or vaccination.

The state, local governments, health care providers and community-based organizations will exert their efforts to have eligible Californians vaccinated. The extension of hours and access through community clinics and providers will aid in this goal where public education will promote achieving community immunity. The prime focus of the vaccine efforts is to ensure equity as the state prepares to reopen.

Governor Newsom revealed the state has held 40 percent of vaccines for the hardest-hit communities where an equity metric has been implemented to increase vaccinations in these counties. Doing so is to recognize the virus has not equally impacted cities and towns in the state. The Healthy Places Index (HPI) provides the data on life expectancy predictions and compares the community’s conditions that determine the overall health across the state.

Officials are designing a system that will administer 5.8 million doses weekly. Newsom anticipates more than 30 million doses to be administered by the end of the month. He also informed that the state has administered over seven million more doses than all other states.

New variants like the B.1.351 have been discovered in California with a 50 percent more transmissible rate. Dr. Ghaly is urging those eligible to receive the vaccination to get it in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

As of now, reopening is looking more positive as vaccinations have prevented the virus from spreading. 

Jess Taylor is in her senior year at UC Davis from a small town called Wheatland. She is finishing her studies in English and Human Rights.

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