SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – More than a year after the state closed completely amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic, California officials announced Tuesday that all COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted due to vaccine distribution and a continued decline in new hospital stays nationwide on June 15th.
“In anticipation and expectation that we will do all of this, and I will repeat it – continue to wear face covers, continue to have access to vaccines, and continue to administer vaccines in a fair manner. If we keep up the pace, we will now go beyond the (reopening) blueprint, ”said Governor Gavin Newsom at a press conference in San Francisco on Tuesday morning.
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“We announce today that on June 15th we will go beyond the blueprint and get rid of the colored layers. We’re moving past the dimmer. We’re going to get rid of the blueprint as you know it today. That is on June 15th when we continue the good work. “
The announcement means 40 million Californians can finally return to a new normal. Business offices can be fully reopened, as can restaurants, bars, churches, cinemas, sports and entertainment venues and any other business that has struggled to survive under the severe restrictions. In addition, all schools and universities would be reopened for personal instruction.
“With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our animal system and try to fully reopen the California economy,” said Newsom. “We can now start planning our life after the pandemic.”
Dr. State Health and Human Services’ Mark Ghaly said Californians must continue to wear masks and avoid gatherings where they believe they may come into contact with the disease.
“It is our job now not to announce the completion of the mission, not to suppress our watch, but to continue the vigilance that has brought us to where we are today, with the lowest fall rates in America,” added Newsom. “We see a bright light at the end of the tunnel.”
In a conference call Tuesday morning, Ghaly announced that the state had distributed 20 million vaccinations – 4 million among the groups hardest hit by the disease. This sum is 7.2 million more than any other state and ranks 6th in the world.
“California has made incredible strides in fighting the spread of COVID-19 by staying home, masking, and quickly distributing vaccines to Californians in every corner of the state, including the communities hardest hit by the pandemic “said Ghaly.
70 percent of older Californians received at least one dose.
“Hospital stays have steadily decreased,” he said. “And luckily there are really few deaths.”
On April 15, all Californians aged 16 and over can receive vaccination doses. According to Ghaly, officials have set a time window of 8 1/2 weeks from that date to prepare for the large-scale reopening and to monitor any possible surges that could delay it.
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He said state health officials were also closely monitoring several new variants of the virus discovered in California and carefully monitoring new hospital admissions.
“Hospital stays are stable and low,” said Ghaly. “We watch who is admitted to the hospital. Whether they have been vaccinated or not … We are monitoring the new variants … We are confident of what we see. “
Newsom repeated these feelings.
“We now have a 1.6% positivity rate nationwide over a seven-day period,” he said. “We are reporting 1,367 cases today; still widespread, still deadly, still challenging. “
The state will also ditch its 31-week blueprint for the reopening of the color level, which is so familiar to all Californians.
“The state will transition to the new status as a whole,” said Ghaly. “There will be no more steps.”
Like weaving through a maze, getting a vaccine appointment was a challenge for many, even if it was an option weeks ago.
“It’s completely random. I tried to get an appointment for a week or two. I jumped on yesterday and I got it, ”said Scott Abbott, a San Francisco resident.
Vaccinated or not, the urge to reopen fully has been questioned by some.
“I understand the economy has to open up, but I’m still very skeptical of the variations,” said Akfahay Gadegone, a San Francisco resident.
Currently, Alameda, San Francisco, Marin, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo counties have moved up to the Orange tier. It was announced Tuesday that Contra Costa, Napa, and Sonoma counties will move to Orange Tier on Wednesday morning, while only Solano County in Red Tier in the Bay Area remains.
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Napa is just one of 16 California counties that will move to less restrictive status as of Tuesday’s announcement.