Most of California to reopen as vaccine eligibility expands

FILE - In this Thursday, March 11, 2021, file photo, a health worker loads syringes with the vaccine on the first day of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being made available to residents at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles. California officials say much of the state will be able to reopen next week to indoor activities as coronavirus case rates remain low. At the same time, more than 4 million residents with certain disabilities or health concerns become eligible for a vaccine. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, March 11, 2021, file photo, a health worker loads syringes with the vaccine on the first day of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being made available to residents at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles. California officials say much of the state will be able to reopen next week to indoor activities as coronavirus case rates remain low. At the same time, more than 4 million residents with certain disabilities or health concerns become eligible for a vaccine. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SAN FRANCISCO – Most of California's 40 million residents will be able to enjoy limited indoor activities such as dining inside or watching a movie at a theater by mid-week as coronavirus case rates continue to stay low, state officials said Friday.

Officials said that 13 counties, including Los Angeles, would be able to open restaurants, gyms and museums at limited capacity on Sunday, the result of the state hitting a 2 million equity metric aimed at getting more vaccines into low-income communities. Another 13 counties are expected to reopen Wednesday under a different metric.

Also next week, the state expands eligibility for the still-scarce vaccine.

WHICH COUNTIES CAN REOPEN SUNDAY AND WHY?

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that he would set aside 40% of vaccine for residents of about 400 ZIP codes the state deems most vulnerable based on metrics such as household income, access to health care and education levels.

The point is to tie reopening standards to ensuring that the people most affected by the pandemic are protected against the virus, he said. Once the state reaches 2 million doses administered in those ZIP codes, which it did Friday, the threshold for moving out of the most restrictive tier in a color-coded, four-tier system the state adopted in August relaxes.

Previously, counties could move from the purple tier to the lower red tier based on metrics that include the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people per day over a period of several weeks. The threshold for entering the red tier now moves from 7 cases per 100,000 residents to 10 cases.

The counties eligible to reopen within 48 hours — Sunday — include Contra Costa and Sonoma in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. San Bernardino and Orange said it would do so Sunday, although LA County officials said they would wait until Monday.