Quick Take:

Wild Poppies – a small local olive oil business – was created by two sisters, Kim Null and Jamie de Sieyes. Their...

Hey everyone, it was an incredibly newsy Thursday on both the local and national levels.

A few hours before President Joe Biden took the national stage for his first primetime address, county officials took to Zoom to fill us in on some rapid developments. Among them:

➤ One day removed from re-entering the red tier, Santa Cruz County is on track to enter the orange tier within three weeks.
➤ The yellow tier — and a green tier, still-fermenting in the governor’s office — shouldn’t be far behind.
➤ A previously predicted late March/early April surge has fallen off, giving way to hope that herd immunity could set in by late spring.

More on all that below, plus the latest developments on local vaccine distribution and what Biden’s plan for speeding up adult vaccination is all about …

Looking so good we need to create a green tier?

Natalie Dul and her trainer Delphine Houssin work out at Cabrillo Fitness.
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

LOCAL UPDATE: Santa Cruz County is seeing “continued good news in terms of case rates, hospitalizations, death rates, [and] ICU availability,” the county’s health officer Dr. Gail Newel said, adding that she expects the county to progress quickly from the red to orange to yellow, and even into the green tier (which doesn’t currently exist but Gov. Gavin Newsom has said is in the works) as herd immunity is on pace to set in. Mallory Pickett goes over the details here.

ECONOMY WATCH: Breweries, wineries and distilleries will soon be allowed to operate outdoors statewide — even if they don’t serve food — in the latest loosening of California’s coronavirus business restrictions. More from our LA Times partner here.

Biden to direct states to open up vaccinations to all adults by May 1

Covid 19 vaccine vocab_LA_thmb
Credit: File photo

VACCINE WATCH: President Joe Biden painted a picture of a May in which the nation finally gets a leg up on the pandemic. By May 1, restrictions on who can make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment will be lifted nationwide, Biden said. The current limitations no longer will be needed because vaccine supply will be adequate to meet demand. All American adults should be able to get at least a first shot by the end of May, he added. We’ve got the latest on Biden’s big speech from the LA Times here.

Equity issue addressed, vaccine eligibility expanding

To address the low vaccination rate among East L.A. residents, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center opened a COVID-19 vaccination site at East Los Angeles Civic Center on Wednesday. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

COVID TODAY: County officials shared that they do not expect the fact that Santa Cruz County has been left out of the state’s new equity plan to have a huge impact on local vaccine availability. Meanwhile, vaccine eligibility is also expanding in somewhat surprising ways. Mallory provides those details here.

More from here & elsewhere

As California hits the 2 million residents vaccinated mark Friday, most counties will be moving toward red (LA Times)
Waves of Californians will be newly eligible for the vaccine. But getting it will be tough (LA Times)
A year into a pandemic, this bar outside Yosemite still refuses to follow COVID-19 rules (SF Gate)
Majority Approves Of Biden’s Handling Of Pandemic, NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll Finds (NPR)
Texas attorney general files lawsuit against Austin leaders over mask requirement (CNN)
When Disneyland reopens, it’s going to have even more of a privilege problem (SF Gate)
Companies That Rode Pandemic Boom Get a Reality Check (New York Times)
A Year Of School Like No Other: How A Teacher, A Student And A Parent Have Coped (NPR)


Dr. Newel talked Thursday about expected changes coming via the state to the CDC’s guidance on family and multiple family indoor gatherings. BE ON THE LOOKOUT for news on that in the coming days.

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow!

Mark Conley
Deputy Managing Editor

Follow Mark Conley on: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Mark joins Lookout after 14 years at the Mercury News and Bay Area News Group, where he served as Deputy Sports Editor on a staff that covered three...