Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a plan to fully reopen California's economy on June 15 if current COVID-19 trends hold.
California will move away from its color-coded tier system that regulates closures and openings county-by-county, the governor said while visiting San Francisco. The whole state will enter into this phase at the same time.
The details of what "fully open" means aren't quite clear yet. The state said "everyday activities" will be allowed to resume and businesses can reopen with "common-sense risk reduction measures," such as wearing masks.
Gov. Newsom said California's mask mandate wouldn't be lifted anytime soon.
"This disease is as deadly as it's ever been. The only thing that we have done is suppress the spread because of the number of vaccines that have been administered and because of mask wearing," Newsom said.
The full reopening is contingent on two conditions, the state said:
- "If vaccine supply is sufficient for Californians 16 years and older who wish to be inoculated"
- "If hospitalization rates are stable and low"
The state didn't immediately offer more concrete numbers that would determine whether those two requirements have been met.
The California Department of Public Health will also continue to monitor case rates, hospitalizations and vaccine efficacy, it says, and reserves the right to move the June 15 date if it deems necessary.
California's Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday the state would look at hospitalization rates as a whole, but also focus on who is being admitted into hospital beds with COVID-19, and whether or not those patients had received the vaccine. If people who have been vaccinated start to become hospitalized with the virus, that would be of particular concern.
Ghaly said right now, it's a race to get people vaccinated.
The governor's announcement comes as California surpassed 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered. Four million of those were administered in the state's hardest hit ZIP Codes, the state says.
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About 42% of California's over-16 population has received one dose; 23% are fully vaccinated.
"We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic. We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here - wearing masks and getting vaccinated - but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter," Newsom said in a statement.
Newsom said there would be no barrier for all students to return back to classrooms, including those at community colleges and universities, by June 15. Schools won't be required to reopen by the state, but the governor said the expectation is there.
"I want kids back in school safely for in-person instruction," he said.