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By Collin Breaux

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Tuesday, April 27, that fully vaccinated people do not have to wear masks if they are outdoors and not “in certain crowd settings or venues.”

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second shot of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or the sole dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Not wearing a mask outside can be done, for instance, if you are going hiking or walking outside by yourself or with members of your household—something some people have already been doing.

Masks are also not recommended if in small groups of other fully vaccinated people.

The CDC still recommends wearing a mask when at indoor public settings or indoor gatherings with unvaccinated people, and avoiding large indoor gatherings.

Continuing to wear masks outdoors if in large crowds of strangers, such as at concerts or other large events, is advised.

The announcement comes as vaccinations continue to rise, including in California and Orange County. Over 11 million people in California are fully vaccinated, and over 28 million doses have been administered statewide. Over 2.4 million doses have been administered in Orange County.

Some limited capacity events and amenities are gradually returning to Orange County, as COVID-19 cases remain relatively low and state restrictions gradually recede.

Orange County is still in the orange “moderate” tier of California’s four-tier, color-coded blueprint system, as of this post. The tiers variously prohibit or allow certain activities, including for businesses, and are based on pandemic conditions in a county. Indoor dining and other activities are permitted under the orange tier, and customers have been regularly filling up seats at local restaurants lately.

Though there have been recent minimal increases in COVID-19 metrics, they are still much lower when compared to the surge seen months ago.

The yellow “minimal” tier is still potentially on the horizon for the area. The move to yellow from orange would lift even further restrictions, but could be moot by June 15 when the tier system will likely be done away with if restrictions are entirely lifted across the state. The statewide lifting of restrictions will be based on if COVID-19 metrics continue to hold steady and there are enough vaccine supplies.

Orange County entered the orange tier on March 31, which allowed increased capacity for indoor dining at restaurants, among other provisions. An area generally has to remain in a tier for several weeks with favorable conditions before moving to a less restrictive tier.

Orange County’s current metrics are 2.6 new cases per day per 100,000, 1.4% positivity rate on a seven-day average, and 1.9% health equity quartile positivity rate. The 2.6 rate is a slight drop from last week’s rate of 2.8 new cases per day per 100,000.

In order to advance to the next less restrictive tier, each county must meet an equity metric or demonstrate targeted investments to eliminate disparities in levels of COVID-19 transmission, depending on its size, per state regulations. The yellow tier requires less than two cases per 100,000.

Orange County reported 7,110 COVID-19 tests on April 27, and has over 3.6 million cumulative tests so far. There have been 246,101 recoveries to date.

Six deaths from COVID-19 were reported in Orange County on April 27. There have been 4,939 cumulative deaths in Orange County to date.

A majority of counties in California are in the orange tier, though some are in the more restrictive red “substantial” tier. There are no counties in the widespread tier, 13 in the substantial tier, 41 counties in the moderate tier, and four in the minimal tier.

Nationally, the United States has 32.2 million total cases and approximately 572,000 deaths in total as of Tuesday. California has approximately 3.73 million total cases and 61,461 deaths as of Tuesday. There are approximately 148 million cases worldwide in total.

Approximately 231 million doses have been administered nationally, with 95.9 million fully vaccinated. Approximately 29% of California’s population is fully vaccinated, and 29.2% of the country fully vaccinated.

For the entire world, over 1.04 billion doses have been administered.

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