California Governor Gavin Newsom was asked on Wednesday if he thinks the entire state might be out of the most restrictive purple tier of his Blueprint for a Safer Reopening by the first day of spring.
“Yes,” said the governor, “based on trend lines.”
Those trend lines include the numbers in the state’s largest county dropping to the point where schools can reopen for in-person instruction. Los Angeles Public Health officials announced that news Tuesday night.
Newsom reminded that the state was seeing an 11.4% 7-day test positivity rate a month ago. On Wednesday, that data point stood at 3.5%.
In terms of what that means for counties progressing to less-restrictive tiers of his reopening plan Newsom said,
“Remember… We have one county, Plumas…that’s moving out of purple into the red tier today. I anticipate substantial number next week and even more in the subsequent weeks.”
He then went even further.
“If the trend lines continue — and, indeed I think that is the case — we’ll see counties move,” said the governor, “not just from purple to red, but more and more, red to orange and I anticipate, based on the number that are already in orange, you’ll see many more that are in that yellow tier as well, which is more permissive in the tiers that we put out 24 weeks ago in our blueprint for a safer reopening.”
Newsom then added one caveat.
“It’s hard to predict the future, particularly with this virus,” observed the governor. “But notably with consideration of the variations” things could change.
He then said the updated totals for virus mutations detected — some of which are thought to be more transmissible — were as follows: 189 cases of the UK variant, 0 instances of the Brazilian mutation, 2 of the South African strain and 1834 instances of California’s own West Coast variants. That last number is up 50% over last week, when it was up 20% from the week before.
“West Coast variants [are] something not a lot of folks have paid attention to,” said Newsom, but they could be problematic.
Last week, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer revealed that “at least 50% of our samples have shown the West Coast variant.” She then hedged saying, “more research needs to be done.”
Some who have done more research suspect the variant may not only be more transmissible — like the UK variant — but also vaccine resistant. But again, more research needs to be done.