California hits equity mark: 2M doses to vulnerable areas; new counties move into red tier

California on Friday announced it has administered more than 2 million vaccine doses to people in vulnerable, low-income ZIP codes. This will allow counties to more quickly reopen activities such as indoor dining and indoor gyms at reduced capacity.

"California is doubling down on its mission to keep equity a top priority as we continue to get COVID-19 doses into the arms of all Californians as safely and quickly as possible," said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency. "Focusing on the individuals who have been hardest hit by this pandemic is the right thing to do and also ensures we are having the greatest impact in reducing transmission, protecting our health care delivery system and saving lives."

Since this equity metric has been met, and because vaccines slow the spread of disease and serious illness, state health officials said that they are allowing 13 counties to move into a less restrictive tier.

The state said Amador, Colusa, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Mendocino, Mono, Orange, Placer, San Benito, San Bernardino, Siskiyou, Sonoma and Tuolumne counties can move from the purple tier to the red tier on Sunday.

Contra Costa and Sonoma counties are the only Bay Area regions still in the purple tier.

In fact, 21 counties that are still in the purple tier, such as Sacramento and San Diego, should move into the red tier on Sunday, officials said. 

Going forward, the purple tier threshold is greater than 10 cases per 100,000 people.


Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that he would set aside 40% of vaccine for residents of some 400 ZIP codes the state deems most vulnerable based on metrics such as household income, access to health care and education levels.

The point is to tie reopening standards to ensuring that the people most impacted by the pandemic are protected against the virus. While race and ethnicity are not explicit factors in designating vaccinations, the ZIP codes overlap heavily with neighborhoods with higher populations of residents who are Black, Latino and Asian and Pacific Islander, officials said.

At the time of his announcement, the state had administered about 1.6 million doses to residents of these ZIP codes.


California adopted a four-tier, color-coded system in August that dictates how much activity is allowed in each county. New tier assignments are announced on Tuesdays.

Previously, counties could move from the most restrictive purple tier to the lower red tier based on metrics including the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people per day over a period of several weeks. The threshold for entering the red tier will move from 7 cases per 100,000 residents to 10 cases.

SEE ALSO: The Bay Area has 10 ZIP codes prioritized by the state for vaccines

By hitting the 2 million mark, the state will reassess counties and allow them to move to the red tier within 48 hours instead of waiting until Tuesday. Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous with 10 million residents, said the earliest it would allow museums, gyms, movie theaters and restaurants to open indoors at limited capacity is Monday.


The state's "blueprint" will be updated again when 4 million doses have been administered in the vaccine equity quartile.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.