A roundup of the biggest news stories in California this week, including a coronavirus update and the latest from Sacramento….
California Introduces Vaccine Equity Metric
he Newsom Administration on Thursday announced that California will enact safety protocols and vaccine equity in its efforts to end the pandemic and reopen the economy. The state has set aside 40 percent of vaccine doses for the hardest-hit communities and established a vaccine equity metric – which seeks to increase vaccinations in those communities – as a prelude to adjusting the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
California’s approach will continue to focus on masking and effective use of testing, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation. The state is also updating its recommendations about the most effective use of masks and when to consider double masking.
“With more vaccines online and administered, California is now in a position to take steps toward ending this pandemic by keeping our guard up and by vaccinating those Californians most at risk and most exposed,” said Governor Newsom. “Vaccinating our most impacted communities, across our state, is the right thing to do and the fastest way to end this pandemic.”
This approach 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 (HPI). The rate of infections for households making less than $40,000 per year (11.3) is more than double that of households with an income of $120,000 or more (5.2). At the same time, California’s wealthiest populations are being vaccinated at nearly twice the rate of the most vulnerable populations.
The initial goal of the vaccine equity metric is to deliver a minimum of 2 million doses to the hardest-hit quarter of the state as measured by the Healthy Places Index. The state has currently delivered 1.6 million doses to this quarter of the state. It is estimated that 2 million doses will be delivered in the vaccine equity quartile sometime in the next two weeks.
Outdoor Theme Parks, Ballparks and Stadiums May Open Next Month
Today, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released updates to the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy reopening framework focused on activities that can be conducted outdoors with consistent masking, two factors that are scientifically shown to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread. The updates allow outdoor ballparks, stadiums and theme parks to open with significantly reduced capacity, mandatory masking and other public health precautions. These changes take effect April 1.
Outdoor sports and live performances (with fans/attendees) are eligible to begin April 1. In the purple tier, capacity will be limited to 100 people or fewer and attendance will be limited to regional visitors. Advanced reservations will be required, and no concession or concourse sales will be allowed. In the red tier, capacity will be limited to 20 percent. Concession sales will be primarily in-seat (no concourse sales). In the orange tier capacity will be limited to 33 percent and in the yellow tier capacity will increase to 67 percent. Attendance will be limited to in-state visitors in the red, orange and yellow tiers.
Amusement parks are eligible to reopen in the red tier beginning April 1. Capacity will be limited to 15 percent in the red tier. In the orange tier, that limitation will increase to 25 percent, and then 35 percent in the yellow tier. Attendance will be limited to in-state visitors.
More than 10 Million Covid-19 Vaccine Doses Administered in California
As of today, the state has administered more than 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, less than three months after the first shot was administered in the state. With access to three highly effective vaccines, the state remains focused on equitable distribution to those individuals and communities most at risk of serious outcomes from COVID-19. Visit covid19.ca.gov/vaccines for more information on the state’s vaccine program.
With three vaccines online and nearly 10 million doses administered statewide, vaccines have made a difference and overall disease trends have improved dramatically over the past six weeks. Case rates, test positivity, transmission rate, hospitalizations and ICU admissions are all on a steady decline since the winter surge.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced the most recent statistics on Covid-19 in the state today, revealing a continuing trend of significant improvement. California has 3,493,126 confirmed cases of to date, which includes 4659, newly recorded cases on Thursday. The seven-day positivity rate is down to 2.1% and the 14-day rate is also down at 2.4%. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 53,448 Californians have died due to Covid-19.
As of Tuesday, 40 California counties remain in the purple tier, and 16 counties are in the red tier with the new addition of El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Napa, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo and Santa Clara. Two counties are in the orange tier.
Remember to sign up at myturn.ca.gov for a notification when you’re eligible for a vaccine.