Ghaly explains changes to California vaccine distribution plan, formula for tier changes

After Gov. Gavin Newsom made a few big announcements Monday, it was up to Dr. Mark Ghaly to delve into the details Tuesday.

First up are the reopening updates. After Newsom announced the regional stay-at-home orders would be lifting immediately, California counties were thrown back into the color-coded reopening system to govern what can and can't reopen.

All but four counties are in the most restrictive, or purple, tier. Newsom hinted that could change, but based on the latest case rates, Ghaly announced Tuesday there would be no changes this week.

He said the state was watching a few counties that were trending in a positive direction and could change tiers next week.

MAP: CA counties that can, can't reopen under new rules

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The decision to lift the stay-at-home orders was a surprise to many, as remaining ICU capacity is still quite low in parts of the state. Ghaly explained the decision was made based on complex four-week ICU projections.

Perhaps even more anticipated was Ghaly's update on California's vaccine rollout plan. Gov. Newsom said Monday that after teachers, food and agricultural workers in Tier 1B, the state would move to an age-based priority system.

That's much simpler than the old plan, which included everyone from "water and wastewater" workers to the "communications and IT" sector in Tier 1C.

"Californians were understandably confused by mixed messages, variability of eligibility across the state, when's my turn, and who's going next," said Yolanda Richardson, secretary of the Government Operations Agency.

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The state has tripled its pace of administering vaccines, Ghaly said, and is learning from the challenges it has encountered so far. California is currently vaccinating about 125,000 people daily on weekdays.

To make the rollout more efficient and scale up as more supply arrives, California is building a statewide vaccination network, Richardson said. The network would work with hospitals, pharmacies, pop-up sites and more to allocate more doses to sites that are vaccinating quickly. Eventually, they want to establish more fixed vaccination sites.
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