Two of the largest states in the country reopened this week: California dropped most of its COVID-19 restrictions, while New York hit a vaccine milestone – 70% of adult New Yorkers have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, allowing the state to lift restrictions.
“California has turned the page,: California Gov. Gavin Newsom triumphantly declared Tuesday in a ceremony at Universal Studios Hollywood. “Let us all celebrate this remarkable milestone. Today is a day to reconnect with strangers, loved ones, family members. Give people hugs.”
“This is a momentous day and we deserve it because it has been a long, long road,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.
The reopenings are occurring in the two states that accounted for the most pandemic deaths among all U.S. states, highlighting a remarkable turnaround: California lost more than 63,000 people to COVID, while New York lost nearly 53,000.
In 2020, California was the first state to shut down in the face of surging COVID infections. This week, the state’s regulators were moved to approve revised worksite pandemic rules allowing fully vaccinated employees to shed masks as long as they can prove they are vaccinated.
The new California rules apply in most workplaces in the state, including offices, factories and retail. Fully vaccinated employees will not need to wear masks, except in locations like mass transit and classrooms where they are required for everyone. Physical distancing will also end, unless a workplace is dealing with a serious outbreak.
Last, but certainly not least, the pandemic is far from over – this week, the U.S. death toll from the pandemic surpassed 600,000. Only 44% of the US population is fully vaccinated, according to data from the CDC.
Experts estimate the pandemic won’t be contained here until 70% of the population gets vaccinated, which is why the Biden administration is continuing its aggressive push for all Americans to get vaccinated.