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SLO, Santa Barbara counties remain in red tier; CA announces plan for summer reopening

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Posted at 6:42 PM, Apr 06, 2021

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a plan on Tuesday to lift most of the state's coronavirus restrictions by this summer.

"We can confidently say that by June 15, we will start to open up as business as usual," Newsom said during a press conference on Tuesday.

California was the first state to adopt a statewide stay-at-home order last spring and has been using a complex, color-coded tier system to determine restrictions by county.

This dictated which businesses could open and at what capacity depending on how widespread the virus was in a particular county.

The announcement on Tuesday signals an end date to this system after more than a year of isolation for many.

But for now, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties remain in the second-most restrictive, or red, tier.

Current case rates are holding back both counties.

Chris Ecker, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center Infection Preventionist, says he urges caution moving forward.

"Especially having indoor activities but at least that gives us a couple of months to get more people vaccinated by then," Ecker said during an interview with KSBY on Tuesday.

Gov. Newsom said that 20 million doses of the COVID-19 have been administered in the state.

The more doses administered, the easier the state makes it for counties to meet requirements and lift restrictions.

"We are seeing death rates, mortality rates go down. We are seeing case rates stabilize," Gov. Newsom explained.

To get to the next tier, orange, a county's case rate must be 5.9 or lower, but it's currently 6.3 in San Luis Obispo County and 6.9 in Santa Barbara County.

"That's definitely in the wrong direction so we're basically going from 5 to 7 in a matter of a week and that is probably because of people letting their guard down," said Dr. Henning Ansorg, Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer.

This summer's reopening is two-fold.

First, there must be a sufficient vaccine supply.

"We anticipate over 30 million people will have been vaccinated at least one dose by the end of the calendar month," Newsom said.

Hospitalization rates must also remain low.

"I wouldn't want anyone who is vaccinated to think they are 100% protected," Ecker said. "It does definitely help but as long as there's community spread, there's always some risk."

With this new reopening date now looming, it's anticipated that case rates will stabilize and there will not be a significant increase in hospitalized patients that have received the vaccine.

"What is really necessary for this to be possible at all is that as many people are vaccinated as possible," Dr. Ansorg said.

"This is really a race. These vaccines against the variants, against the mutations," Newsom added.

He said that even with the June 15 reopening, California's mask mandate will remain in effect.

The governor also said that when it comes to schools, he anticipates there will be no barrier for getting all kids safely back in the classroom following that June 15 reopening.