Selina Arreola, an office manager at Elkhorn Packing, directs patients toward a farmworker vaccination clinic in Greenfield on April 3, as part of the check-in process. (Sean Roney/Staff)

MONTEREY COUNTY — Vaccination numbers continue to climb in Monterey County, with County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno announcing that more than 35% of county residents age 16 and over have received at least one vaccine dose.

During a March 31 press briefing, Moreno noted that number is probably higher because some health care providers have not been able to get their dosage numbers into the state registry.

Last week all individuals age 50 and over became eligible for the vaccine, and starting April 15, all individuals age 16 and over will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccines.

“I do encourage everyone that’s eligible to be vaccinated to schedule an appointment,” Moreno said.

He advised anyone who is having difficulty scheduling an appointment to ask a relative, friend or neighbor for help, or to call 2-1-1.

On Tuesday, Monterey County was moved from the Red Tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy data chart to the less restrictive Orange Tier. The county can move forward with additional reopenings under the latest tier assignment beginning Wednesday.

The following activities can resume in accordance with state capacity limits and safety protocols: 

  • Indoor dining at 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer;
  • Retail stores indoors at 100% capacity with modifications;
  • Gyms and fitness centers indoors at 25% capacity, with indoor pools open;
  • Movie theaters at 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer;
  • Family entertainment centers indoors at 25% capacity with modifications for areas of increased risk of proximity; and
  • Zoos, museums, and aquariums at 50% maximum indoor capacity.

“The (lower tiers) release some restrictions on businesses, which can create additional opportunities for exposure to the virus to occur,” Moreno said. “To keep our case rates down … which will reduce the number of people dying from Covid-19, we still need to take measures to reduce transmission.”

With vaccination eligibility going up, Moreno expressed concern over dose availability.

“I agree that there will be a lot more people that are eligible in California,” he said. “The state is estimating that California will receive more and more vaccine through federal allocations from the three manufacturers.”

Moreno said the county isn’t aware of its allocation numbers until the state makes a delivery determination.

“It varies from week to week,” he said.

As for how much immunization is needed until the state achieves herd immunity, Moreno said that threshold has yet to be determined by the California Department of Public Health and is complicated by variant strains of Covid-19.

“At this point, we haven’t reached herd immunity, which is why we’re still doing everything we can to get vaccine into Monterey County,” Moreno said. “There’s still a lot we don’t know in terms of the impact of variants.”

In addition, new state guidance was announced in regard to outdoor gatherings and indoor events, effective April 15. 

Under the Orange Tier, outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed. 

Private events or meetings, such as receptions or conferences, will have a limit of 100 people for outdoors. Indoor activities will be allowed if all guests are tested or vaccinated with a limit of 150 people.

Also beginning April 15, indoor live events will be allowed in venues with a capacity of up to 1,500 people. In the Orange Tier, capacity is limited to 15% or 200 people, and capacity increases to 35% if all guests are tested or fully vaccinated.

Ryan Cronk contributed to this article.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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