With coronavirus cases continuing to decline in California as vaccinations increase, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that the state’s economy could fully open up again as early as June 15.
The full reopening is contingent on two criteria: that California’s COVID-19 vaccine supply is sufficient for all adults who wish to receive the shot; and that hospitalization rates remain stable and low.
If those two conditions are met, in two months the state — as a whole — will be able to move into a new phase beyond the state four-tiered, color-coded system that’s been guiding reopenings for more than six months.
“We are seeing bright light at the end of the the tunnel and on June 15, all things being equal we … will have moved beyond that blueprint and will be opening this economy and business as usual,” Newsom said at a late morning news conference.
Once that happens, the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” plan will essentially be scrapped. Then, every single sector listed in the system will be allowed to resume normal operations, provided they keep public health policies in place to prevent the spread of the virus. The state’s testing and contract tracing efforts will also continue.
Even conventions and other large-scale indoor events will be permitted with the requirement of testing or vaccination verification.
Newsom also anticipates that, by mid-June, there won’t be any barriers to resuming in-person instruction for students in grades K-12, community college and institutions of higher learning.
While he said that is that state’s “expectation,” he stopped short of saying that it will be a requirement once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
One measure that will remain in effect for the foreseeable future is the state’s mask mandate, which Newsom called “the most powerful and important non-pharmaceutical intervention” to curb the virus’ spread.
“We are committed to extinguishing this disease and we don’t have any short term goals as it relates to lifting the mask mandate,” he said.
The nation’s most populous state continues to make progress in vaccinating its nearly 40 million residents. As of Tuesday, California has administered more than 20 million vaccine doses, 4 million of which have gone to communities hit hardest by the pandemic, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
More than 30 million Californians are expected to have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the month, Newsom said.
Last week, the state opened up vaccines to everyone over the age of 50. And starting April 15, all adults will be eligible to receive a shot.
“California has made incredible progress controlling the spread of COVID-19 by staying home, masking, and getting vaccines out quickly to Californians in every corner of the state, including in those communities hardest hit by this pandemic,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly noted in the release.
COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been on the decline since a third wave inundated the state beginning at the end of last year and prompted California to issue regional stay-at-home orders that affected most residents through the start of 2021.
Now, as some states are experiencing a fourth wave, California has the lowest coronavirus case rate in the country, according to Newsom. The state’s seven-day testing positivity rate is at 1.6%, he said.
On Tuesday, California reported 1,367 new COVID-19 cases, with seven deaths.
To date, the state has 3,583,830 confirmed cases and 58,541 deaths.