Some of California’s biggest counties are now closer to a wider economic reopening than they’ve been in months, with only a smattering of strategically deployed COVID-19 vaccines standing between them and the ability to resume on-site dining and welcome additional students for on-campus learning.
According to new state data released Tuesday, Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties recorded coronavirus case rates low enough to enable them to escape the strictest, or purple, tier of California’s four-tier reopening roadmap. The timing of when they officially land in a less restrictive category, however, hinges on how quickly vaccine can be administered to residents of some disadvantaged areas.
The magic number of doses is 2 million. Once California has given that many vaccinations in targeted lower-income communities, the state will relax the criteria, which along with the lower case rates will allow those counties to move from purple to the more permissive red tier. The state’s goal is to administer more doses in the areas that fall into the lowest quartile of the California Healthy Places index, a socioeconomic measurement tool.
Currently, counties must have an adjusted rate at or below 7.0 new coronavirus cases per day per 100,000 people to move into the red tier. After the state hits its 2-million dose goal, which likely will occur this week, counties with a case rate of up to 10 new cases per day per 100,000 people would become eligible for the red tier.
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