Can California Really Reopen Its Economy Completely By June 15?
It’s the target date that officials unveiled this week in continued optimism about the state-wide pandemic landscape as the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to decline and more and more. more people are getting vaccinated.
“With the expectation of an abundance of doses from the federal government until the end of this month and into May, we can confidently say by June 15 that we can start opening up as usual.” – subject to wearing a mask and permanent vigilance, ”Governor Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday.
Newsom said the goal was to “return to a sense of normalcy”. But it will be a new normal.
Notably, the California mask mandate will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
As has often been the case throughout the pandemic, the timeline is subject to change – and dependent on the state continuing to make progress in the fight against COVID-19.
Here are four factors to consider.
1. Deployment of the vaccine
Full reopening will depend on whether many more people get vaccinated in California.
It’s not a new goal, but officials say it looks more achievable than ever.
This week, California received 2.4 million total doses of the vaccine, a 33% increase from two weeks ago, Newsom said.
And there is hope that these expeditions will become even more robust in the weeks to come. State officials previously estimated that supplies could reach more than 3 million doses per week in the second half of this month.
These expedited shipments would come just as California opens up statewide access to vaccines to anyone 16 and older on April 15.
However, the circumstances are such that some counties – including Riverside, San Bernardino and Kern – have already opened the doors to everyone in this age group.
To date, providers across California have distributed nearly 20.5 million total doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and 34.5% of residents have received at least one vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.
The calendar in California reflects growing national confidence that the tipping point between scarcity and oversupply of vaccines may be imminent.
President Biden initially said states should make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccines by May 1. But on Tuesday, he announced a more aggressive deadline of April 19.
According to Dr Mark Ghaly, Secretary of State for Health and Human Services, June 15 was chosen in part as the target date for California.
“We wanted to be able to provide at least two weeks, two to three weeks, for people interested in getting vaccinated who suddenly become eligible on April 15 to line up to start their vaccines,” he said.
The complete vaccination schedule depends on the type of vaccine given. Ghaly noted that the longest time frame is associated with the Moderna vaccine – which has a four-week gap between its first and second doses.
Health officials consider a person to be fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final dose.
2. Trends in COVID-19
California has so far resisted the spring surge in COVID-19 seen in other parts of the country.
And hospitalizations – another data point the state is monitoring closely – have continued to decline.
Ghaly stressed that “if we see a worrying increase in our hospitalizations, we will take the necessary precautions. But for now, we’re hopeful in what we’re seeing as we continue to build on the 20 million vaccines already given. “
However, the state has not established concrete benchmarks to determine whether it is ready to move forward as hoped.
“We don’t have a specific number, per se, on hospitalizations, but we are looking at the impacts on hospital capacity and the ability of delivery systems to continue to provide routine care,” Ghaly said.
Health officials continue to warn that variants of the coronavirus – some of which have been shown to be more infectious – remain a threat.
Of particular concern is the British variant, the most widespread detected in the United States, responsible for more than 15,000 reported cases in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The South African variant has been detected in over 300 cases and the Brazilian variant P.1 has been identified in over 200 cases. None of these variants were detected in all states.
In California, the two most dominant variants are the Californian and British variants. The California Department of Public Health has recorded more than 9,000 cases of the California variant and 851 of the UK variant, which is more transmissible and possibly more fatal than the conventional strain.
There were 35 cases of the Brazilian variant P.1, 33 cases of the New York variant B.1.526, 22 cases of the Brazilian variant P.2 and 10 cases of the South African variant.
In Los Angeles County, the South African, British and Brazilian variants have been detected, but none of them dominate the region.
A possibly disturbing variant of the coronavirus first identified in India has also been discovered in California, officials said this week.
This “double mutant” variant is causing concern among some scientists because it contains not only one, but two mutations in its genetic makeup that have been identified among other worrisome variants being tracked by the CDC.
California has already reopened quickly as COVID-19 wears off. And that causes more crowds and concerns.
While many of those on the move may have already been vaccinated, health officials and experts continue to urge residents to remain vigilant and do their part to curb the transmission of the virus – all the more as other states report new outbreaks.
LA County officials, for example, continue to take a cautiously optimistic approach.
As the rate of coronavirus cases has fallen to a level not seen since the early days of the pandemic, public health director Barbara Ferrer said that “still means there are hundreds and hundreds of known cases that are diagnosed every day ”, and the actual number of those infected is probably higher.
Federal officials noting the rise in the number of cases elsewhere in the country on Monday said now was not the time to return to normal.
“As community businesses begin to reopen, these findings underscore the vast impact of a single event affecting communities, schools, families and frail seniors,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters. during a briefing. “And it underscores the impressive transmissibility of this virus and the continued need to… reduce the number of people indoors, improve ventilation in buildings, and use outdoor spaces when the weather permits.”