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Some California counties ready to move away from state tier system, but urge caution

Many counties know that people are ready to leave the tier system behind, but they still say to take the news with a grain of salt.

CALIFORNIA, USA — Months of business restrictions could be nearing an end in California after Governor Gavin Newsom said the state’s tiered reopening plan could go away in June.

June 15 is the expectation for California’s reopening and for a possible end to the tier system if certain conditions are met.

“With the expectation of an abundance of doses coming in from the federal government through the end of this month and into May, we can confidently say that, by June 15, that we can start to open up as business as usual, subject to ongoing mask-wearing and ongoing vigilance,” Gov. Newsom said on Tuesday.

Other factors in the decision were lowering mortality rates, stabilizing case rates, and an expectation that about 30 million Californians will have had a vaccine by the end of the month, Newsom said.

The public health departments who have been spearheading the vaccination effort on the ground say many people are ready for the move to something resembling normal.

“This is a sign of hope for many after a challenging year, and many of us are looking forward to a summer closer to 'normal,'” said Dr. Rob Oldham, interim health officer for Placer County. “It's important that our community continue to take precautions like masking to help us slow transmission, even as we continue build on our vaccination progress, to help get us across the finish line. We are hopeful that the timeline outlined by the state is an indication of their level of confidence in vaccine supply in the coming months.”

Yolo County, an area that's projecting entry into the yellow tier in mid-late April, said that while the public might be ready to make the move, spread levels and variants are reasons to stay cautious.

“Just because the State is moving away from the tiered system does not mean that the danger has (passed) or that people still can’t get sick or die from COVID,” said Jenny Tan, spokesperson for Yolo County, in part. “We all need to take this news with a grain of salt and to protect ourselves by getting vaccinated when eligible, wearing a face covering, and still physically distancing.”

Tan said 34% of Yolo County residents have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, meaning 66% are still susceptible to the virus.

In Sacramento County, Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye is keeping mindful about vaccine supply and that full vaccination of the county will take some time.

“We are hopeful the County will see an increase in allocations in the coming months. It is vital that people continue to remain vigilant by wearing masks, social distancing and handwashing – in addition to getting vaccinated when they can,” Dr. Kasirye said. “That way – when the time comes to reopen all our business sectors, we can do so effectively and safely.”

In contrast to Newsom announcing the possible end of the tier system, Nevada County learned that they could be heading back to the purple tier as soon as April 13 due to increasing case rates. In a news release, the county said certain restaurants and bars are fully open in defiance of health orders as large gatherings take place along with "mask burning" protests.

A spokesperson for the county said the news sheds light on the work they'll need to do as a community to move toward less restrictive tiers and the end of the tier system.

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