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More Fresno County residents will become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines starting next Monday. The news comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an increase in vaccine allocations to the Central Valley.

Workers in a variety of sectors will now be able to get shots, including those involved in the sale, delivery, or production of food and those caring for pets or livestock. The county is also working to expand access for teachers and other educational workers.

“We want to make sure everybody understands that it is a lot more expansive,” said Joe Prado, the county’s community health manager.

It’s still unclear how many more doses are coming into the county, but officials say they’ll have a much clearer picture Thursday when the number is finalized.

The expanded eligibility classifications include:

  1. Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies, convenience stores, and other retail that sells food or beverage products, and animal/pet food, retail customer support service, information technology support staff, for online orders, pickup/takeout or delivery.
  2. Workers supporting restaurant carry-out and quick serve food operations, including food preparation, carry-out and delivery food employees.
  3. Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees to include those employed in food ingredient production and processing facilities; aquaculture and seafood harvesting facilities; livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities; pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing by-products for animal food; beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging, including recycling operations and processing.
  4. Workers at animal care facilities that provide food, shelter, veterinary and/or routine care and other necessities of life for animals.

“We want to make sure everybody understands that it is a lot more expansive.”Fresno County Community Health Manager Joe Prado

“All our clinic sites open up to those tier populations next week,” said Prado. To sign up, the county says everyone needs to log into the the state’s MyTurn website and schedule their appointment. Prado says grocery store and restaurant workers should bring in a copy of their pay stub to show proof of their occupation. He says even something on company letterhead would help  with the actual validation process at the clinic site.

Prado’s team is also working closely with school districts to expand vaccinations for educators starting next week as well. He is confident any member of the education community that wants a vaccine will be able to get one by the end of March.

“We’re just working out those numbers, getting those final numbers from the school districts and then we’ll be planning accordingly,” said Prado. He says some of the smaller rural school sites will have either mobile units or school nurses administering the vaccine.

Fresno County COVID Metrics Continue Improvement

According to the state’s latest ‘Blueprint for a Safer Economy’ dashboard, Fresno County’s COVID-19 metrics showed more improvement over last week.

The county’s case positivity rate dropped from 7.9% to to 6.6%. In addition, the rate of daily new cases per 100,000 population dropped from 22.8. to 16.6.

There are now 22 available ICU beds throughout the county. That’s 5 more than one week ago.

Despite the improvements, the county will remain in the most restrictive ‘purple’ tier at least through early next week.

“(The state has) already told us that they’re not going to make the tier judgment except for once a week,” says Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra. The state updates the tiers on Tuesdays.

Testing for Variants

The county will be sending COVID-19 test samples to a state lab next week to check for any of the coronavirus variants that are showing up in the Bay Area and Southern California.

“I’m meeting with my lab team later this week to make sure that we understand the process for choosing those samples,” said Vohra.

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