California reached its goal Friday of delivering 2 million COVID-19 doses to communities hit hardest by the pandemic, triggering a change that will allow at least 26 counties to loosen reopening restrictions as soon as this weekend.
Starting Sunday, Placer, Los Angeles and 11 other counties can move to the red tier. On Wednesday, 13 other counties — including Sacramento, San Joaquin, Sutter and Yuba — could also move to the red tier.
Under the red tier, restaurants and movie theaters will be able to reopen indoors at 25% capacity, while gyms can reopen indoors at 10% capacity. Museums may also resume indoor operations at 25% capacity.
State health officials set the 2 million-dose mark last week when they announced California would tie reopening requirements to vaccine equity. The plan set aside 40% of all vaccine doses for neighborhoods in the bottom 25% of its Healthy Places Index, which assesses Census tracts based on measures related to the health and socio-economic condition of residents.
Part of the plan also changed the threshold for counties to enter the red tier from seven cases per 100,000 residents to 10 cases once the 2 million doses were delivered. Friday's change means many counties currently in the purple tier now qualify to move into the less-restrictive red tier.
On Sunday, 13 counties — Amador, Colusa, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Mendocino, Mono, Orange, Placer, San Benito, San Bernardino, Siskiyou, Sonoma and Tuolumne — will be eligible to move from the purple to red tier.
On Wednesday, another 13 — Kings, Lake, Monterey, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, Ventura and Yuba — are expected to be eligible to move from purple to red on Wednesday.
Despite the milestone, California's vaccine distribution has yet to match the makeup of the state's population or those most impacted by the virus.
Only 3% of all vaccines administered have gone to Black Californians, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard, though 6.5% of the state’s population is Black according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. And just 18.7% of the shots have been given to Latinx residents — despite that group making up nearly 40% of the population according to the census.
The California Department of Public Health said the reopening criteria would be evaluated again once 4 million doses were delivered to the hardest-hit area.
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