The end of the pandemic may be on the horizon, as L.A. County expands vaccination eligibility to all residents age 16 and older on Thursday and continues to reopen sectors of the economy.

Newly eligible residents can begin scheduling appointments on Wednesday. Residents ages 16 and 17 must schedule an appointment at a site offering the Pfizer vaccine, as neither Johnson & Johnson nor Moderna vaccines have been approved for use on this age group.

Alongside expanded vaccine eligibility, new health orders will also take place on Thursday allowing for the resumption of live indoor and outdoor events as well as conferences, private group events and receptions.

These regulation changes come amidst the lowest case rates the County has recorded in over a year. The seven day average case rate was around 400 on April 4, compared to 660 on April 4, 2020.

In the last month alone daily deaths have dropped by 84 percent, daily hospitalizations by 56 percent and daily cases by 38 percent.

These promising health metrics, coupled with widespread vaccine availability, pave the way for a planned complete reopening of California’s economy in two months.

“With the governor’s new announcement that the state will be opening all sectors on June 15, hopefully we will have a real date in sight where we can see the end of this pandemic,” said County Supervisor Hilda Solis. “We just need to make sure though that we don’t slip up before then.”

Subject to continued low case rates, June 15 will mark the reopening of all business sectors across the state. It will not, however, signal a return to pre-pandemic life. Mask mandates will remain in place and certain venues may require proof of vaccination for entry.

The live event and group gatherings beginning on April 15 must adhere to strict Covid-19 safety protocols.

Indoor live events and performances are open to in-state residents only. Attendees must purchase tickets in advance and wear their masks at all times, unless in a designated eating or drinking area.

All households must be spaced six feet apart and capacity is limited to 15 percent. This limit may increase up to 35 percent if all guests are tested or fully vaccinated.

While Los Angeles’s vaccination and case trends continue to be positive, officials urged all residents to abide closely by health officer orders to ensure that the County’s reopening can continue unhindered.

“Thankfully California and L.A. County have yet to see the increases that we’ve witnessed in so many other states across the country and across the world,” said County Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “Like so many of you I do feel hopeful for the first time in a long time, which makes it even more critical that we all follow the safety measures. We cannot let up. Not now.”

Clara@smdp.com