For the first time, Los Angeles has qualified for the least-restrictive tier of California’s reopening Blueprint. It’s a remarkable development for a county that, in early January, was the epicenter of the worldwide pandemic.
Los Angeles County’s adjusted 7-day test positivity rate fell to just 1.9%. That’s below the 2.0% threshold to qualify for the Yellow — or least restrictive — tier of California’s color-coded reopening plan. There are two other data points, but the region has long qualified for Yellow in those areas.
San Francisco’s 7-day test positivity rate came down this week to 1.8%. Like L.A., that county had long qualified in the other required measures. You can see this week’s data chart for all California counties here.
The state requires a county to qualify for a less-restrictive tier for two consecutive weeks before allowing it to move.
So L.A., California’s most populous region with 25% of the state’s population, needs to hit that mark for one more week and it can drastically decrease anti-Covid prohibitions.
The word “adjusted” in the term “adjusted 7-day test positivity rate” is key to L.A.’s movement. The county’s raw 7-day test positivity rate is 3.6, well above the 2.0% threshold. The state has for months applied a convoluted formula using a wide variety of factors to adjust county’s positivity rates, mostly down. Otherwise, L.A. would not have the potential to lift restrictions further next week.
Ditto San Francisco which has a raw case rate of 3.1. The state has adjusted that to 1.8.
So what restrictions are loosened in the Yellow tier? That’s been a moving target for the past week-plus, ever since the California Department of Public Health issued an Addendum to the state’s capacity guidance for “activities or events” in which all attendees are either vaccinated of have tested negative for Covid-19.
Initially, it seemed logical that indoor concerts would be one of the sectors impacted, but the guidance issued on April 19 did not specify — see chart below.
California Public Health later clarified that the expanded permissions for “activities or events” actually impacted movie theaters, museums, aquariums and zoos.
Paired with Tuesday’s numbers that means L.A. theaters, currently at 50% capacity will, if the county again achieves Yellow status next week, be allowed to “increase capacity by an additional 50%, up to a maximum of 75% of total venue.” That’s so long as patrons are all fully vaccinated or have a recent negative Covid-19 test.
Moving to the yellow tier would mean fitness centers, cardrooms, wineries and breweries would be permitted to increase indoor capacity to 50%, up from the current 25%; bars would be able to open indoors at 25% of capacity; outdoor venues such as Dodger Stadium could increase capacity to 67%, up from the current 33%; and amusement parks could allow 35% of capacity, up from 25%. See charts at bottom.
As far as the state of the state’s counties overall, 0 of them are in the Purple (widespread) tier, 13 counties are in the Red (substantial) tier, 41 counties are in the Orange (moderate) tier and 4 counties are in the Yellow (minimal) Tier.
The progress is remarkable. On January 1 of this year, the 7-day test positivity rate statewide was 17.1%. It is now 1.2%. On January 4, California recorded 60,229 new cases. On Tuesday that 24-hour measure was 1,445 new cases. Deaths went from a peak of 682 on January 15 to just 5.
Earlier on Tuesday, the CDC issued new masking guidance for Americans. A key takeaway from the release was that fully-vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask outdoors, except in certain crowded settings and venues. Specifically, masks should still be worn at a crowded outdoor event, like a live performance, parade, or sports event.
California Governor Gavin Newsom later released a statement confirming that the state would adopt the CDC strictures. “After reviewing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s masking recommendations,” wrote Newsom, “and with science and data as our guide, we are moving to align California’s guidance with these common-sense updates.” Los Angeles public health officials have yet to weigh in, but they generally agree with the state.
See charts below for CA’s current sector-by-sector reopening guidance.
City News Service contributed to this report.
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