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Top Doc Says Fresno County is 'On the Cusp' of Reaching Red COVID Tier
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By Jim Jakobs, Digital Producer
Published 3 years ago on
March 10, 2021

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Another Tuesday update from the state, and another week of Fresno County not moving down into the less restrictive ‘red’ tier.

The good news is the county is doing well in case positivity, with a rate of 5.3% — down from last week’s 6.0%. That would be good enough to meet the ‘red’ tier standard of less than 8.0%.

The county is also doing well in the health equity metric (ensuring the positivity rate in more vulnerable neighborhoods do not significantly lag behind overall county positivity rates). The current rate of 6.8% is down from 7.1% a week ago. That’s also within the ‘red’ tier standard.

Where the county continues to struggle is with its number of new COVID-19 cases per 100k residents. It’s a number that’s been dropping, but not by a significant enough margin to break through. At 12.6 cases per 100k, the county is still far above the state’s ‘red’ tier threshold of 7.0 cases per 100k population.

However, that threshold will change to 10.0 cases per 100k once 2 million vaccine doses are administered in neighborhoods deemed most vulnerable by the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week.

“We’re just right on the cusp, in my opinion, of getting into the red tier.”Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra

“We’re just right on the cusp, in my opinion, of getting into the red tier,” said Vohra. “I’m hoping that with all of our other metrics looking as good as they are, that it’ll just be a matter of a week or two for us to get into the red tier.” Vohra is pushing the county to do more testing because the state can give extra credit in the cases per 100k metric for an abundance of surveillance.

Vaccines continue playing a big role in getting the virus under control, and this week the county just got its largest allotment to date. 43,000 doses — including 10,000 of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine. So far, Fresno County has administered 213,000 vaccinations, officials said.

Are Open Businesses Contributing To the High Case Count?

A number of Fresno County businesses have been pushing the limits of what’s allowed in the current ‘purple’ tier.

ABC30 reported that GB3 fitness centers have been open for indoor workouts in violation of ‘purple’ tier rules. On Monday, GB3 also reopened some of its indoor swimming pools, the station reported. Many restaurants are again offering indoor dining, as well, which is also prohibited in Fresno County’s current tier.

Vohra was asked if businesses that are not abiding by state orders are contributing to more COVID-19 cases.

“I think that’s a matter of some sensitivity because obviously I trust that those businesses are trying to do the best by their staff and their customers and are really just trying to keep the lights on,” said Vohra.

Without singling out any particular business, Vohra reiterated that since the county remains in the ‘purple’ tier, indoor operations are still considered higher risk.

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