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

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California Blueprint Reopening Ghaly Newsom
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.

Coronavirus

California Keeps Mask Mandate Until June 15 Despite CDC Guidelines

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CDC Mask Guidelines

California public health officials announced Monday the state is keeping the current mask mandate until June 15 despite updated federal guidance for those fully vaccinated.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, Health and Human Services secretary, said California is expected to modify the mask mandate in June when the Blueprint for a Safer Economy is no longer in effect.

On Thursday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said those who are fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physically distancing.

Ghaly added the state wants to give local governments and businesses more time to implement the relaxed mask rules. 

“This is in no way saying that the science or direction of the CDC’s guidelines is wrong. It’s just giving us some extra time to have this implemented with a high degree of integrity,” Ghaly said.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger sent a letter Friday asking the state to align with federal guidelines on face coverings.

“The State of California now boasts the lowest COVID-19 positivity rate in the nation. Yet, the state still maintains some of the strictest COVID-19 restrictions in the Country,” Barger wrote.

Los Angeles County cannot loosen its existing mandates until the state regulations are updated, according to the supervisor. 

Major retailers, including Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Starbucks and Costco, have dropped their mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers.

In order to be considered fully vaccinated, residents must wait two weeks after their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the CDC.

Anyone 12 years and older living or working in Los Angeles County can now get vaccinated. For more information, visit here.

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City Of Los Angeles Expands COVID-19 Vaccination Site Hours To Increase Access

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COVID19 Vaccine Los Angeles County 2 (1)

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a series of steps to expand COVID-19 vaccine access among Angelenos at Los Angeles-City run sites on Monday.

 Efforts include extending hours to 8 p.m. at nine fixed City-run sites; administering all three approved vaccines at mass vaccination centers; and offering doses appointment-free across Los Angeles. These increases in operations come on the heels of the announcement by public health professionals that 12 to 15-year-olds are eligible to get vaccinated.

“We can end this pandemic, restore public health, and rebuild our economy, but only if we can put vaccines within reach of every Angeleno, regardless of income, zip code, or neighborhood,” said Garcetti in a statement. “With expanded hours and growing eligibility, we are doing everything we can to reach residents who have yet to get vaccinated — and make it as easy and safe as possible to deliver doses across our communities.”  

To get the vaccines into more arms across Los Angeles, the City eliminated the appointment requirement and piloted evening hours earlier this month. After seeing a 200% increase in demand for evening vaccinations over the last two weeks, the City will extend hours until 8 p.m. at all of its permanent locations, except for Dodger Stadium, which will remain open until 4 p.m. 

All fixed sites will operate from Monday to Saturday, with the exception of Dodger Stadium, which will permanently close on Thursday, May 20. 

Most mobile locations will operate between Tuesday and Saturday from the hours of 9 am to 3 p.m., except for two-night clinics at South L.A. Wetlands Park and Sylmar Recreation Center, which will run until 9 p.m. 

Angelenos who visit any fixed site with extended hours will be able to choose from any of the three vaccines currently available: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

This week, City vaccination sites will have the capacity to administer roughly 250,000 doses to Angelenos across 10 permanent sites and each of the Mobile Outreach for Vaccine Equity (MOVE) clinics.

Equity remains a key focus of the City’s vaccination program. The MOVE initiative delivers doses directly to neighborhoods most impacted by the pandemic, administering 111,719 so far. This week, the City will deploy 10 mobile teams, serving residents in South L.A., East L.A. and parts of the Valley, including South Park, Chesterfield Square/Harvard Park, Vermont Vista, Watts, Boyle Heights, Wilmington, Van Nuys, Sylmar and others. 

Pre-registration is not required, but Angelenos who wish to plan ahead can visit here to sign up or find the nearest location. 

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Supervisor Barger Urges State To Align With CDC Mask Guidelines

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Supervisor Kathryn Barger sent a letter Friday asking the state to align with federal guidelines on face coverings for those who are fully vaccinated. 

Barger urged Governor Gavin Newsom to modify California’s mask mandate to follow the protocols announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday.

“As you know, the Centers for Disease Control has announced that it is now safe for fully vaccinated Americans to not wear masks or practice physical distancing in most situations,” Barger wrote. “Additionally, the State of California now boasts the lowest COVID-19 positivity rate in the nation. Yet, the State still maintains some of the strictest COVID-19 restrictions in the Country.”

Los Angeles County cannot loosen its existing mandates until the state regulations are updated, according to the supervisor. 

Barger said it is appropriate for the California Department of Public Health and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to change the existing distancing and masking requirements in alignment with the new guidelines. 

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing on Thursday anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physically distancing.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Walensky said. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

In order to be considered fully vaccinated, residents must wait two weeks after their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the CDC.

“Los Angeles County is committed to implementing safe, sensible directives that still protect our recovery and prevent regression to high positive case rates,” Barger wrote. “We especially want to ensure protections for workers, particularly those who work indoors, including on public transportation and in schools, large venues, and congregate housing such as jails, shelters and skilled nursing facilities.”

The L.A. County Department of Public Health continues to offer vaccinations without appointments at County-run vaccination sites while supply lasts. 

Anyone 12 years and older living or working in Los Angeles County can now get vaccinated. For more information, visit here.

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