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Beyond The Blueprint: California Could ‘Fully Reopen’ On June 15

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Dr. Mark Ghaly administering a COVID-19 vaccine to Governor Gavin Newsom. Courtesy Photo.

On June 15, California could “fully reopen,” ending the Blueprint for a Safer Economy as COVID-19 vaccinations increase across the state.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services, said Tuesday the blueprint is set to end by mid-June, and businesses to open with “common-sense” safety measures.

“The blueprint as it is devised now will no longer be in effect on June 15,” Ghaly said. 

The June goal hinges on two criteria: the vaccine supply needs to be accessible for Californians ages 16 and older who receive a shot and hospitalization rates have to be “stable and low,” according to the state.

“We must continue to do our part to keep this momentum moving in the right direction, and that means continuing to wear a mask and ensuring everyone who is eligible gets the vaccine,” he said.

Sector-by-sector capacity limits, including large convention centers and music festivals, could be in place until Oct. 1, unless attendees are fully vaccinated or tested, according to Ghaly. 

“It is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California’s economy. We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

A face covering mandate is still going to be in place after the change, according to the state.

The June date was set to ensure all residents over the age of 16 are able to receive a shot and be fully vaccinated, according to Ghaly.

On April 15, all residents in California become eligible for a vaccine, however, it may take time for all of these residents to get a dose. 

It takes two weeks after the last shot of a one-dose or two-dose vaccine to become fully protected, according to public health officials. 

On Tuesday, Ghaly announced two major milestones in the state’s vaccination efforts. A total of 20 million doses have been administered across California — more than any other state in the U.S. and many other countries. 

The state also reached 4 million doses administered in the “hardest-hit” communities. 

In the coming weeks, Ghaly expects the COVID-19 vaccine supply to increase, allowing more residents to get a shot. 

Across California, over 70% of residents over 65 have received at least one shot, with 41% of those eligible over 16 receiving at least one dose.

The state is not currently exporting a vaccine passport system, however, several industries are looking into options to validate vaccination, according to Ghaly. 

Public health officials have been in conversations with businesses for over a year to get input on how to safely reopen. 

Ghaly said many businesses are going to keep certain safety restrictions in place even after the blueprint has ended. 

The state is moving forward “with a great deal of hope and optimism, but keeping an eye on the data.” 

“The road to this moment hasn’t been easy,” Ghaly said.

Note: This story has been updated with a statement from Governor Gavin Newsom’s Office.

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COVID-19 Cases Among Those Experiencing Homelessness Drop In L.A. County

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COVID-19 cases among those experiencing homelessness are dropping in Los Angeles County as vaccinations increase. 

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has confirmed 23 new deaths and 613 additional cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. To date, Public Health identified 1,227,514 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 23,569 deaths.

The number of cases among people experiencing homelessness dropped from the peak of 672 weekly cases reported during late December to 117 new cases reported this week, according to the department. 

The number of new cases reported this week includes 58 cases from previous weeks that were newly identified as cases associated with people experiencing homelessness and were included in the new case totals. 

Public Health has identified a total of 6,994 cases among people experiencing homelessness. Cumulative case totals are lower due to ongoing quality assurance reviews. Cases previously reported as COVID-19 cases among people experiencing homelessness were re-classified after further investigation and review.  

A total of 205 people who were experiencing homelessness have died from COVID-19. Of the people experiencing homelessness who passed away, 93 were sheltered, 67 were unsheltered, and for 45 people who passed away, their shelter status was unknown, according to the department. 

121 providers are reporting they are administering vaccinations to people experiencing homelessness. This is about double the organizations compared to the previous week. Currently, 13,621 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to people experiencing homelessness across Los Angeles County.

 Of those vaccinated, at least 1,907 people received second doses. The County continues working with partner organizations to vaccinate, reduce virus transmission, and protect people experiencing homelessness from COVID-19 infection, according to public health officials. 

Starting Thursday, April 15, anyone living or working in L.A. County 16 and older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and can schedule vaccination appointments on the MyTurn website. 

Youth 16 and 17 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine and need to sign up at a site that offers this vaccine. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who can provide consent for vaccination, according to Public Health. 

To learn how to make an appointment, visit here.

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Public Health Prepares For Increased Demand As Residents Over 16 Become Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccine

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Public health officials are preparing for a surge in demand for a COVID-19 vaccine as all residents over the age of 16 become eligible on Thursday, as supply decreases due to the pause of Johnson & Johnson.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said Wednesday the newly eligible group includes nearly 5 million residents, with about 1.5 million already receiving at least one dose of a vaccine. 

All residents over 16 can make an appointment starting Wednesday on the state’s MyTurn website, following the expansion by the City of L.A. earlier this week. 

The county paused the use of the J&J vaccine on Tuesday out of an abundance of caution after the recommendation from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Ferrer said the blood clotting reaction is “one in a million,” but urged those who have experienced any unusual symptoms to contact Public Health. 

More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S. The CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. 

The pause is in effect until the FDA and CDC complete their review, which is expected to take several days, according to the department. 

“We are grateful to the researchers and scientists working to ensure that all medications or vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, meet the highest safety standards,” Ferrer said.

Public health officials are prioritizing new appointments for those who were scheduled to receive a J&J vaccine, according to Ferrer.  

The county received an allocation of about 323,470 doses of the vaccines this week, an estimated 80,000 doses less than the week prior. About 19,000 doses of the allocation are the J&J vaccine, according to Public Health. 

As of April 14, over 3.4 million doses have been administered in L.A. County, including over 1.9 million second doses, according to the public health director.

On Wednesday, 57 new deaths and 411 additional cases were reported in Los Angeles County. A total of 23,553 deaths and 1,226,964 cases have been confirmed across the county since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the department. 

For more information on vaccination efforts in L.A. County and to make an appointment, visit here

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Los Angeles County Remains In ‘Orange’ Tier As COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations Decline

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Los Angeles County is remaining in the “orange” tier of reopening as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decline. 

The L.A. County Department of Public Health confirmed 23 new deaths and 448 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. To date, 1,226,596 positive cases of COVID-19 and a total of 23,498 deaths have been confirmed across all areas of L.A. County.

There are 471 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 25% of these people are in the ICU. Testing results are available for more than 6,223,000 individuals with 18% of people testing positive.

L.A. County is in the orange tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy that allows for permitted activities in several key sectors with safety measures in place. In order to move to the less restrictive yellow tier, the County’s case rate must be less than 2 new cases per 100,000 people and test positivity must be less than 2%.

Tuesday, the State released updated numbers; L.A. County’s adjusted case rate slightly increased from 3.1 new cases per 100,000 people to 3.2 new cases per 100,000. The test positivity rate remained at 1.5% and in areas with the fewest health affirming resources, L.A. County’s test positivity rate remained at 1.9%.

The State plans to fully reopen with safety measures on June 15 if there is enough vaccine supply for Californians 16 years and older to be vaccinated and hospitalization rates remain stable and low, especially among fully vaccinated Californians.

“We have moderate transmission in L.A. County, so it remains necessary to continue taking steps to prevent increases in cases to keep our recovery from stalling,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health in a statement. “One important tool for reducing transmission are vaccines. And while we all need to follow the FDA and CDC recommendation to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as they conduct their review, we encourage residents to keep their appointments to get vaccinated with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. We are grateful to the researchers and scientists working to ensure that all medications or vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, meet the highest safety standards.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a joint recommendation on Tuesday to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reports that six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed unusual types of blood clots 6 to 13 days after receiving the vaccine. 

Out of an abundance of caution, Los Angeles County is following the recommendation of the FDA and CDC to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until the FDA and CDC complete their review, which is expected to take several days, public health officials said.

Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare with nearly 7,000,000 people receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States to date. COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority and we are working with healthcare providers across the county to ensure they are using screening tools and reporting adverse events, according to the department. 

People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last three weeks should report severe headaches, abdominal or leg pain, and shortness of breath to their medical provider or seek medical care. People who don’t have a medical provider can call 2-1-1 to connect with a healthcare provider.

Public Health notes the pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should not have a major impact on this week’s vaccine appointments for the County. Out of the 323,470 total doses allocated to the County this week, only 19,600 were Johnson & Johnson doses. Vaccine providers in Los Angeles County will contact patients that were scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine about rescheduling or providing a new appointment for Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. 

Changes will be made to the MyTurn website starting tomorrow to allow residents 16 and older to begin to schedule vaccination appointments for Thursday and later. Youth 16 and 17 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine and need to sign up at a site that offers this vaccine, according to the department. 

For information about how to make a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, visit here.

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