The finish line finally appears to be in sight.
Announcements from the California government indicate that the state sees brighter days ahead in the battle against Covid-19.
To date, over 20 million Californians have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, approximately half of the state’s population.
Come next week, a new set of guidelines for vaccination and gatherings go into effect.
This signals faith, at least within the government, that vaccination efforts are working.
Starting April 15, any California resident age 16 and older is eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.
Event and large gathering capacity is dictated by a county’s tier: if a county is in purple tier, no events are allowed at indoor venues. Red tier allows for 10% or 100 people at venues under 1,500 capacity and increases up to 25% if guests are tested/and/or show proof of vaccination.
Orange tier allows for 15% (200 people) and up to 35% if tests and/or proof of vaccination can be produced
Yellow tier puts capacity at 25% (300 people) and up to 50% for tested and vaccinated folks.
At venues that exceed 1,500 guests, untested and vaccinated capacity is set to 10% (2,000 people) but scales to 35% in the orange tier and 50% in the yellow tier.
Individual venues will need to modify the services that they provide to require things like advance ticket purchases, designated food and beverage areas, and restricting out-of-state visitors.
The state also released guidance for private gatherings and conferences, set to go into effect on April 15 as well. Indoor gatherings may only occur if all guests are tested and/or vaccinated.
Purple tier: outdoor only, limited to 25 people. If guests are tested/vaccinated, 100 people.
Red tier: Indoor gatherings up to 100 people, outdoor gatherings up to 50 people, 200 if tested/vaccinated.
Orange Tier: Indoor gatherngs up to 150 guests, outdoor gatherings at 100 guests or up to 300 if tested/vaccinated
Yellow Tier: Indoor gatherings up to 200 guests, outdoor gatherings at 200 or 400 if guests are tested/vaccinated.
Much of the onus of verifying test results or vaccination status falls on event organizers and venues.
This design prompts thoughts of a “vaccine passport,” a hotly debated issue nationally as there are members of the population who cannot get the vaccine such as children under 16, individuals with prior severe vaccination reactions, and those who cannot verify their residential status within a county or region (no license etc.).
June Lake’s T-Bar Social Club will host its first concert in over a year on April 15 featuring local band GrooveSession. The show, only open to 25 fully vaccinated California residents, has sold out.
California also hit a vaccination equity goal of 4 million shots administered to the state’s most vulnerable population.
Hitting that metric allows for easier access to the yellow and orange tiers.
But that tier system may not be around too much longer
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday that the state is planning to move to a structure titled “Beyond the Blueprint” on June 15, 8 weeks after new guidelines go into effect. Part of that plan entails doing away with the tier system as a whole.
Newsom said that the state’s economy will reopen if vaccination rates remain high and hospitalizations stay low but didn’t give much information or structure beyond the announcement.
As of April 8, Mono County has administered 7,426 first does of Covid-19 vaccine and 6,317 second doses. The county put up two large clinics on Saturday, April 3 and Monday, April 5, that saw ~1,500 residents receive second doses.
The county is still second in the state in vaccination rate, landing only behind Alpine County.
County Public Health Officer Bryan Wheeler said at Tuesday’s Mono County Board of Supervisors meeting that the county is now pivoting efforts back to first dose clinics and education.
Wheeler said the county is focused on acquiring Pfizer vaccines for the purpose of vaccinating residents ages 16-18. One tray, he said, has already been earmarked for the county.
“As soon as we get firm confirmation of securing that tray of Pfizer, then we will move forward with that plan,” Wheeler said.
In addition, the county will begin to receive Johnson and Johnson vaccine in two weeks, offering a one-shot option.
Supervisor John Peters, who serves on the Rural County Working Group with CSAC, indicated that the process on his end had been frustrating.
Peters said that any info he gets from the state comes “in dribbles” and California Health and Human Services Director Mark Ghaly has developed a habit of cancelling meetings 15 minutes prior to their scheduled start time.
“Again,” Peters added, “We don’t get any credit for the good vaccine movement we’ve been doing and that’s the troubling part.” Larger counties such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and those in the Bay Area have progressed to less restrictive tiers at a faster rate than Mono County.
Mono County has been solidly in the red tier for the past few weeks, and Inyo County is expected to move into the red tier next week, per Inyo Health and Human Services Director Marilyn Mann at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
According to state statistics, the county is reporting 2.3 new Covid-19 cases per day per 100,000 residents with a 1.6% positivity rate. Although eligible with the current metrics, Inyo County will have to wait three weeks before moving into the orange tier, provided that the numbers hold.
Meanwhile, Mono County is reporting 13.3 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents with a 3.1% positivity rate.