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California passes 2M vaccines in hardest hit communities, promises equity focus

SVMH vaccine clinic
People receive the COVID-19 vaccine at SVMC in Salinas


California is relaxing more reopening guidelines after announcing two million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the state's hardest hit, and most disadvantaged, communities.

"California is making good strides on achieving its commitment to delivering doses to the hardest hit communities in our state… places that have shouldered the greatest burden of disease," California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly told reporters on Friday.

The 7-day case rate required to advance from the most restrictive "purple" tier to "red" is moving to 10 per 100,000 people instead of 7 per 100,000. 13 counties are now moving to the "red" tier on Sunday, including San Benito and Los Angeles. 13 more counties, including Monterey, are expected to move to the "red" tier on Tuesday, effective Wednesday.

This will be Monterey County's first time advancing out of the "purple" tier since the Blueprint system went into effect over the summer.

Under California's "Blueprint for a Safer Economy", the "red" tier allows indoor dining to return at 25 percent capacity, along with gyms/fitness centers, movie theaters and zoom/museums/aquariums. Capacity also increases at other eligible sectors.

Governor Newsom previously announced the tiers will loosen again once the state reaches four million vaccine doses administered in the underserved communities - zip codes in the lowest quartile of the state's Healthy Places Index (HPI). The case rate required to advance to the "orange" tier rises from 3.9 to 5.9. Yellow tier's requirement moves from 0.9 to 1.9. "We have quite a bit of work to get there," Dr. Ghaly said.

Since Governor Newsom's March 4th announcement, California has been setting aside 40 percent of its vaccine doses to these underserved communities, which have also been the most impacted during the pandemic.

During President Biden's Thursday night primetime address, he announced all states are directed to make all adults eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1st. California's eligibility remains more restrictive, with only people age 65 and older along with a limit number of high-risk professions able to sign up for appointments.

Dr. Ghaly said California will be "laser focused" on being prepared for that day. What does that mean? "We need to drive equity harder now. We need to make sure that we get into the hardest hit communities... making sure we get those arms and people and families targeted, because that is going to be the quickest way through this."


Vaccinate Distribution (Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker):

  • Percentage of population with 1 dose: 19.9%, 31st highest out of 50 U.S. states
  • Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 9.1%, 48th highest out of 50 U.S. states

COVID-19 Pandemic (CDC):

  • 7-day cumulative case rate per 100k residents: 71.9, 6th lowest out of 50 U.S. states
  • 7-day cumulative deaths per 100k residents: 4.7, 4th highest out of 50 U.S. states

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Aaron Groff

Aaron Groff is an evening co-anchor at KION News Channel 5/46.


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