SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Looks like the Bay Area is staying in the most-restrictive tier of the state’s reopening plan.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly discussed California county reopening tiers and the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday.

The Bay Area counties remain in the Purple tier.

California’s death toll has climbed rapidly since the worst surge of the pandemic started in mid-October. New cases and hospitalizations surged to record highs but have declined rapidly in the last two weeks.

Deaths remain staggeringly high, however, with more than 3,800 in the last week.

As of Tuesday, the Bay Area is at 18% ICU availability, and the four-week projection looks promising as well. Ghaly said by March 1, the Bay Area is expected to increase ICU availability to 33.3%.

Lats week Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted the state’s stay-at-home order and statewide curfew, which is determined by a region’s ICU availability.

Most of California including the Bay Area returned to the most restrictive tier of a four-level, color-coded system for determining what businesses can open.

It allows up to three households to gather outside, the resumption of low-contact recreation like golf and skiing, and the reopening of outdoor gyms. Bars and wineries that don’t serve food can’t open.

When Dr. Ghaly was asked about the new variant on the West Coast, he said it could have more infectiousness than the wild type.

“We are leading our vaccine effort by focussing on protecting those who have the highest risk and those who may suffer the worst consequences.”

Ghaly also said a vaccine timeline will be announced sometime before next week.

Check back at noon for the live press conference and latest updates.