By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
California Governor Gavin Newsom lifted regional stay-at-home orders in place in response to COVID-19 on Monday, January 25, reinstating a colored tier system with criteria for restrictions on certain activities.
As of Tuesday, January 26, Los Angeles County was in the Purple Tier, the most restrictive with indication of widespread risk level for transmission of the virus. With the return of the tiered system, businesses and activities are allowed to resume operations with safety requirements and protocols in place.
Effective Friday, January 29, an updated Health Officer Order will allow restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining—indoor dining will remain prohibited.
Angelenos are also allowed to meet with people outside of their household for the first time since November 30. Gatherings are limited to members of up to three households, with no more than 15 people, and should be outdoors only.
Personal care services, such as salons, malls and shopping centers, may open for indoor operations at 25% capacity. Museums, zoos, aquariums, fitness facilities and faith-based services may open for outdoor operations.
“The way that the state has established you get out of being under a stay-at-home order is if the capacity four weeks from now looks like it’s going to return to at least 15% of the ICU beds being available, and the state has actually used their algorithm to predict that four weeks from now … LA County will have 33% capacity of available beds at our ICU,” LA County’s Director of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer said at a press conference. “That is why the governor has lifted the stay-at-home order, there was data that was used.”
California has also made changes to its vaccine priority guidelines. After getting through the current priority list, which includes healthcare workers and residents 65 and older, the next priority will be people under 65 years old. No additional criteria had been released.
The shift comes as California struggles to get a hold of enough vaccines to meet demand.
Public Health hosted a virtual town hall Tuesday, January 19, to cover current vaccine phases and distribution.
Dr. Seira Kurian, director of medical affairs for Public Health, has helped spearhead vaccine efforts and distribution. She said to expedite the process, appointments in pharmacies like CVS and Walgreen’s are underway, and sites have been continuously opening to help vaccinate over 200,000 individuals in the next two weeks.
Kurian said the pace of vaccination is highly dependent on the doses Public Health receives from the federal government and the state.
“We have very limited vaccine [supplies] and this means that we can only offer a limited number of appointments each week,” she said. “As vaccine availability increases, so will the number of appointments.”
Dr. Eloisa Gonzalez, director of cardiovascular and school health for Public Health, responded to community concerns and said vaccine rollout has been “significantly” slowed by a number of factors, including the need for specific refrigeration of the vaccine.
“That kind of refrigeration is not always available at many traditional vaccination locations,” she said.
Kurian also said LA currently has over 10 million residents and approximately eight million of them meet the age requirements to receive the current vaccine, in terms of being over the age of 16 or 18.
“We have a lot of people who we are responsible for vaccinating,” she explained. “You can expect that it’s going to take us a bit longer to get through our priority groups.”
Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer of Public Health, said the department currently does not know when a vaccine will become available to individuals under the age of 16.
He said Public Health is looking forward to additional vaccines becoming available, including the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines—both are in Phase 3 of their clinical trials in the United States.
“We want to make sure [they’re] safe most importantly, and also very effective,” he said.
LA County has recently incorporated the state’s new appointment registration platform, MyTurn, which is designed to offer a “streamlined process” for residents eligible to receive the vaccine: letting residents know if they are currently eligible, and helping them find and book an appointment.
Public Health currently estimates general public vaccine distribution will be available in late spring or early summer. The county estimated all residents might not be vaccinated until 2022.
As the Palisadian-Post went to print Tuesday evening, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 had reached 1,085,044 across LA County when factoring in Long Beach and Pasadena with 15,592 deaths.
There have been 628 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pacific Palisades and 15 deaths, with 120 additional in Palisades Highlands and one death.
According to data released by Public Health, as of Monday, Pacific Palisades had 75 confirmed cases in the 14-day cumulative case report—down from 119 the previous two weeks—with Palisades Highlands at 13, down from 20.
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