El Dorado County moves to orange tier; State eyes June 15 for full reopening

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — El Dorado County has been upgraded to the orange tier and the state is eyeing fully reopening right before the summer season.

The county on Tuesday was moved from the red into the less restrictive orange tier of the state’s Blueprint for Safer Economy. The tier change goes into effect Wednesday, April 7.

The orange tier allows businesses to expand capacity.

Establishments like movie theaters, restaurants, places of worship, museums, zoos and aquariums can go from 25% to 50% of capacity.

Gyms and fitness center capacity may increase from 10% to 25% and family entertainment centers can resume indoor operations at 25% of capacity.

The county was moved after meeting the metrics threshold after the state reached a milestone with vaccines administered in Quartile 1 of the Healthy Places Index.

There have been over four million vaccines administered to those in under-served areas of the state that are most vulnerable based on household income, environment, education level, housing, transportation and access to health care.

The county’s test positivity rate has also been in the orange metric for the last two weeks.

During a press conference on Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced that June 15 is the target date to fully reopen the economy as hospitalization rates continue to fall and more residents receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The full reopening phase will begin a week before the summer season begins if vaccine supply meets the demand and is accessible for all Californians who are 16 and older who want the vaccine and if hospitalization rates remain low.

Blueprint for a Safer Economy will return to normal operations, however it will be in compliance with Cal/OSHA requirements and with public health policies in place, such as required masking, testing and with vaccinations encouraged.

The state has administered over 20 million vaccines and the county has administered over 92,000 doses of vaccine. Forty-eight percent of county residents who have been vaccinated are 65 and older.

Newsom also said he expects a continued increase in the amount of vaccines allocated to the state.

Statewide cases continue to decline and the positivity rate statewide remains around 1.7%.

However, Newsom urges people to remain vigilant.

“We are in a race against variants and a race to keep cases at a minimum,” he said. “We are committed to extinguishing this disease.”

During the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Public Health Officer Dr. Nancy Williams said that Yolo County in Northern California recently reported its first case of the UK Variant.

“El Dorado County is likely to see that here before long as well,” she said. “These variants are a real threat.”

Williams said that variants make it harder to treat the virus, may require boosters and are becoming difficult to detect in rapid tests.

“It is critical to take precautions until as many people as possible can get vaccinated,” she said. “Vaccines are the way out of this mess and that is still true. The end is in sight and I strongly encourage everyone to hang in there until we reach the end point.”

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