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San Diego County Lifts Nearly All COVID-19 Restrictions As Pandemic Wanes

A student looks back at his mother, as he is vaccinated at a school-based COV...

Photo by Damian Dovarganes / AP

Above: A student looks back at his mother, as he is vaccinated at a school-based COVID-19 vaccination clinic for students 12 and older in San Pedro, Calif., Monday, May 24, 2021.

Most COVID-19 restrictions throughout California ended Tuesday as the state retired its Blueprint for a Safer Economy tier system and lifted capacity and physical distancing restrictions for most businesses and activities.

County Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Nora Vargas thanked the people of San Diego County for their effort and sacrifices during the pandemic and gave special consideration to health care workers, first responders, nonprofits, small business owners and the media for the work they did during the worst of the past year.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman

"This was the greatest public health crisis in more than 100 years, but we made it through," Fletcher said. "We saw neighbors helping neighbors and grandkids making vaccine appointments for grandparents."

Curious how the vaccine rollout is going in San Diego County? KPBS is tracking the progress.

Vargas said that given the way San Diego County weathered the storm of a 100-year pandemic, it could "get through anything."

Certain COVID-19 guidance will continue to be in place for large-scale event settings. Organizers of the so-called mega events with more than 5,000 people indoors or more than 10,000 outdoors will need to take extra steps to ensure the safety of attendees.

People attending such large-scale events indoors will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before arriving at the venue, county officials said.

Organizers of outdoor mega events will be strongly encouraged to implement the same safety protocols, though they will not be required to do so.

Face covering mandates will remain in effect in various settings — on public transit, indoors in kindergarten through 12th-grade schools and child care settings, in health care settings, long-term care facilities, detention centers, homeless shelters, emergency shelters and cooling centers.

RELATED: How California's Pandemic Rules Are Changing

Private businesses can also choose to continue requiring customers to wear face coverings.

"We are excited for where we are today, but it doesn't mean the virus is over," said county Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, who said she would "probably" continue to wear her mask in indoor settings.

Public health officials reported 61 new COVID-19 cases Monday, increasing the cumulative total to 281,374. No new deaths were reported Tuesday. The death toll remains at 3,770.

To commemorate the 62,888 Californians who have died as a result of COVID-19, San Diego Council President Pro tem Stephen Whitburn and President of the People's Association of Justice Advocates Shane Harris lifted a wreath and flowers at San Diego City Hall Tuesday.

"Many of us are excited about this moment of reopening our state," Harris said. "We also cannot forget that the new normal we are talking about also applies differently to the families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 in this pandemic, particularly in California.

"Over 62,888 families are facing a new normal without the people they love," he said. "We are thinking of them as we reopen San Diego and California at large."

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria also thanked San Diegans and front-line employees for their work, but asked people to remain kind.

"I ask everyone to be patient with and look out for one another as we heal from the emotional trauma of the past year and return to a sense of normalcy," he said. "We have proven that as a community we can overcome unprecedented challenges, which gives me hope for our recovery and the opportunities that lie ahead for all of us."

As of Tuesday, a total of 2,214,952 people in the county had received at least one dose of vaccine.

Fully vaccinated residents numbered 1,763,467 — 83.9% of a county-set goal of vaccinating 2,101,936 people 12 and older. That mark, based on 75% of April's population estimate for eligible age groups, is intended to reach community "herd immunity."

More than 4.22 million doses have been received by the county, with more than 3.89 million administered.

A full list of available vaccination sites can be found at www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/community_epidemiology/dc/ 2019-nCoV/vaccines.html.

The county administered more than 43 million pieces of personal protective equipment during the pandemic, completed more than 5 million COVID- 19 tests, provided emergency housing for nearly 10,000 and completed nearly 300,000 case investigations.

Of 7,605 tests reported by the county on Tuesday, 0.8% returned positive. The 14-day rolling average percentage of positive cases is 0.8%.

Video by Roland Lizarondo

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