Red: Los Angeles County has seen a significant decline in Covid cases over the past month. Courtesy image

L.A. County is poised to enter the red tier of Covid-19 restrictions in less than a week, which will allow secondary schools and many indoor businesses to reopen.

The County is on track to qualify for these reopenings on March 17, however a new state trigger would allow it to enter the red tier as soon as 2 million doses of vaccines have been administered to California’s least resourced communities.

“It may only be a few days until the 2 million threshold is reached,” said County Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “We’re now in the process of working with the Board of Supervisors and sector partners to prepare modifications to the County Health Officer order that would permit additional activities allowed in the red tier.

Although L.A. County will qualify to reopen indoor dining in the red tier, Ferrer said officials are still deciding to what degree they will allow this, citing concerns over the spread of Covid-19 in unmasked indoor settings.

“We’ll have a definitive answer on that tomorrow, because we’re still working out with the sectors and with the Board what our guidance will look like for that and what the directives will be,” said Ferrer.

Ferrer emphasized that secondary schools will be encouraged to reopen to the greatest degree possible. Other businesses that qualify for reopening under the red tier are indoor gyms at 10 percent capacity, movie theaters and museums at 25 percent capacity, and retailers and malls at 50 percent capacity.

L.A. County’s average daily case rate has now decreased to less than 700 — the lowest rate recorded since April 2020.

“Our case rates are really low right now and if we continue to make good progress I see in the future we could get ourselves to orange in a few weeks as well,” said Ferrer, referring to the even less restrictive orange tier of reopening.

Under the orange tier, indoor business capacities would be increased and other sectors, such as indoor offices and outdoor bars, would also be allowed to reopen.

Starting next Monday the County will begin Phase 1C of its vaccination rollout, expanding eligibility to people age 16 to 64 who have underlying health conditions or disabilities that put them at high risk of becoming very sick from Covid-19.

This includes people with cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic pulmonary disease, down syndrome, solid organ transplant, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, heart conditions, severe obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

After receiving 54,000 doses of the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine this week, Ferrer said the County expects to receive “little to no” Johnson and Johnson doses for the next two weeks as the company ramps up its production.

“We’re all going to spend the next two to four weeks dealing with some more scarcity,” said Ferrer. “I anticipate things will get much better in April and it will be much easier for people to get appointments then.”