L.A. Public Health addressed new reopening guideline requirements for L.A. County to move from the most restrictive “purple tier,” down to the “red tier” and eventually the orange and yellow tiers.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California’s reopening guidelines would start to focus on areas affected hardest by COVID-19. The change would loosen the previous requirements for counties to move down in reopening restrictions, so long as the “hardest-hit communities,” including L.A., were getting vaccinated.
Vaccinating 2 Million Californians in Hard-Hit Communities
The first requirement will be for the California to vaccinate more than 2 million people in communities with lower scores in the “Healthy Places Index,” including cities in L.A. County.
The state anticipates reaching this goal by end of week, which would open up the next requirement.
Less Than 10 Positive COVID-19 Cases Per 100,000 Residents
In the previous guidelines, L.A. County needed to reach less than seven positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents to move down to the red tier. As of last Friday, the county was very close to reaching that threshold with an adjusted case rate of 7.2 per 100,000 residents.
The new guidelines will have more leeway, allowing for 10 positive cases per 100,000 residents, a mark that L.A. County would already achieve, as soon as the state hits its 2 million vaccinations in hard-hit communities.
“The state anticipates administering 2 million doses to residents in hard hit communities by the end of this week,” L.A. Public Health Director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, said. “If this week’s adjusted case rates remains below 10 new cases per 100,000 people, our understanding is that within 48 hours of the state announcing the vaccine trigger has been met, L.A. County along with other counties with qualifying case rates, would be moved into the red tier and permitted to reopen for additional activities.”
Starting April 1, if L.A. County remains in the red tier it would be able to reopen outdoor venues at a limited capacity, including stadiums and theme parks.
For stadiums such as Dodger Stadium, or SoFi Stadium when the NFL season returns, a max capacity of 20% can be filled with fans. With theme parks such as Six Flags Magic Mountain, they’ll be allowed a 15% capacity limit, with indoor attractions still being restricted.
L.A. County could hit the red tier at some point this week, with neighboring Orange County projected to reach the tier on March 17.
Additional Reopenings In Orange and Yellow Tiers
As of now, in order to reach the “orange tier,” which is right below the red, L.A. County would have to average a less than four COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. To reach the least restrictive “yellow tier,” the county would have to average less than one positive case per 100,000 residents.
If the state vaccinates up to 4 million individuals in the pin-pointed highest-risk areas, however those averages would loosen to less than six cases per 100,000 for the orange tier and less than two cases for the yellow tier.
In these instances, we know theme parks would be allowed 25% of its maximum capacity in the orange tier and up to 35% capacity in the yellow tier.
For stadiums and outdoor entertainment venues the orange tier would allow 33% capacity and the Yellow Tier 67% capacity.
Preparing For the Red Tier
Once the state announces that they’ve reached their threshold of 2 million vaccinations in the hardest-affected areas and L.A. County remains under 10 positive cases per 100,000 residents, counties can qualify to move in tiers within 48 hours.
If projections hold true and the 2 million vaccines are reached, L.A. Public Health said it will begin working on a modified health order that reflects what may open within the red tier.
While we do not know what sectors L.A. County would allow to reopen in the red tier, other counties in California have seen indoor fitness centers and limited-capacity indoor dining.
As of now, we know moving into the red tier also means that that school districts would qualify to allow grades 7-12 to return to in-person instruction. L.A. County already qualifies to begin in-person instruction for grades TK-6, with each school district deciding if it wants to move forward with on-site learning.