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Despite vaccine scarcity, some Bay Area counties jump to reopen as state lifts order

Effectively immediately, California has lifted its regional Covid-19 stay-at-home and curfew orders, though individual counties retain the right to impose further restrictions.

The change moves most California counties back into the purple tier on the state’s four-tier Blueprint for a Safer Economy system, allowing many businesses to reopen with modifications. Among the notable changes include a return to outdoor dining and indoor salons with modifications.

In a press conference Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state projects sufficient improvement of intensive care unit capacity over the next four weeks. The state-driven orders were triggered when regions dropped below 15 percent ICU availability.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly attributes the positive trend to residents heeding the “urgent message to stay home when possible” as hospitals were overwhelmed about seven weeks ago.

Southern California, San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area regions saw the greatest stress on ICU capacity — the state said Monday in a press release that all three are expected to surpass 15 percent in the next four-week period.

California Department of Public Health California county metrics tier map as of Jan. 19, 2021.

However, some counties in those regions are still experiencing very low ICU availability. In the Bay Area, Santa Clara County has just 3 percent of its standard capacity ICU beds staffed and available for incoming patients, although the rate jumps to 14 percent with surge beds included.

Alameda County announced Monday that they plan to loosen restrictions as allowed under the purple tier by midnight. Contra Costa County reacted to the news immediately with a revised list of open businesses. Marin, Napa

San Francisco officials also jumped on board for limited reopenings, providing details in a separate press conference held Monday afternoon. Santa Clara County officials plan to address the changes in a 3 p.m. press conference. San Mateo, Solano and Sonoma counties did not provide immediate updates following the state’s move to lift the order.

Newsom said the state has increased vaccine distribution to about 130,000 doses per week.

In a White House press conference Monday, President Joe Biden said he hopes the nation can reach a rate of more than 1 million vaccinations per day.

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