Orange County qualified Tuesday for a move to the state's least restrictive tier for reopening.
The county can officially enter the yellow tier Wednesday. The case rate as of Tuesday is 1.4 per 100,000 and the positivity rates are 0.9%.
Graduating to the yellow tier allows for greater attendance for many businesses such as movie theaters and gyms, while museums, zoos and aquariums can open up at 100% of capacity and for the first time bars and distilleries can open indoors.
Here are other key changes for counties that move from the orange to yellow tier.
- Fitness centers, cardrooms, wineries and breweries permitted to increase indoor attendance to 50% of capacity, up from the current 25%.
- Bars would be able to open indoors at 25%.
- Venues such as Angel Stadium could increase capacity to 67%, up from the current 33%.
- Amusement parks could allow 35%, up from 25%.
"Our numbers are looking really good,'' Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said. ``We seem to be improving day by day so it doesn't appear the (virus) variants are a concern right now. ... But we still have not reached that 70% herd immunity in Orange County. We still have about 700,000 people to get up to that herd immunity.''
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The county on Monday reported just 39 newly diagnosed COVID-19 infections, upping its cumulative caseload to 254,783. Hospitalization numbers dropped from 82 patients on Sunday to 79 on Monday, with the number of intensive care unit patients dropping from 23 to 13.
Bartlett said she understood the state's newly announced decision to wait until June 15 to align with federal guidance that no longer requires people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear face coverings, except on a bus or airplane or other crowded places. The June date is when state officials are expected to lift most virus-related restrictions if current positive trends continue.
"I think every state has to decide whatever's appropriate for them,'' Bartlett said. ``In certain parts of the country, they're having issues getting their people vaccinated whereas in other parts of the country like California, we're doing much better statewide. But out of an abundance of caution, especially with all of the variants swirling around, that's probably why we want to wait another month.''
Bartlett noted that California is a tourist attraction, so there's some concern about more visitors arriving with more contagious variants.
"We have to be very vigilant and watch this very carefully with a relaxation of mask mandates,'' she said. ``Hopefully things will continue on the current path they're on.''
Bartlett said she knows many constituents who have said they want to continue wearing a mask for the time being, and she said it's important to respect everyone's preferences.
The death toll for March is 180, 580 for February, and 1,536 for January, the deadliest month of the pandemic, and 931 for December, the next deadliest.