California

Nearby Counties Set to Move Into Red Tier. What About Fresno?

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The California Department of Public Health today announced that 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to Californians in some of the state’s hardest-hit communities, increasing immunity where the state’s transmission rates and disease burden have been the highest during the pandemic.

Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer

“I’m not sure if it’ll happen next week. I certainly hope so.”Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra on reaching the ‘red’ tier

With that goal met, the state is loosening some of the metrics used in the California’s ‘Blueprint for a Safer Economy‘ tier structure for reopening businesses and resuming other activities. Now, instead of recording no more than 7 new COVID cases per 100k residents each day, counties can now enter the ‘red’ tier as long as they experience no more than 10 new daily cases per 100k residents.

On Tuesday, CDPH expects Tulare and Kings Counties to move into the ‘red’ tier. The moves will be confirmed on Tuesday and take effect on Wednesday.

As of this week’s report, Fresno County has a case rate of 12.6 new daily cases per 100k residents.

Currently, Fresno County remains in the most restrictive ‘purple’ tier. But, the CDPH said in a Friday news release there is potential for additional counties to move into lower tiers next week based on updated data.

“I’m not sure if it’ll happen next week. I certainly hope so,” said Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra during a morning conference call with reporters. “All of the other metrics are already met so that we can get into red tier by next week.”

Some Counties Will Shift Tiers on Sunday

Health officials said 13 counties will move from the purple tier to red on Sunday because they already meet the new case rate metric. Those counties are: Amador, Colusa, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Mendocino, Mono, Orange, Placer, San Benito, San Bernardino, Siskiyou, Sonoma and Tuolumne.

On Tuesday, CDPH expects to announce 11 other counties will join Tulare and Kings in moving to red based on current data and projections: Sacramento, San Diego, Lake, Monterey, Riverside, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Tehama, Ventura and Yuba.

Fresno County Activating More Vaccination Clinics Next Week

“Next week’s allocation does not include Johnson and Johnson.”Fresno County Community Health Division Manager Joe Prado

Fresno County Community Health Division Manager Joe Prado announced the county is going to open five new COVID-19 vaccination sites in the next couple of weeks.

The new sites include:

  • Sanger
  • Kerman
  • Selma
  • Mendota
  • Fresno City College

“(It’s) going to be really important to have these assets in place and ready as we see potentially a significant increase in (vaccine) allocations during the month of April,” said Prado.

President Joe Biden said on Thursday he wants all states to be able to provide a vaccine for every adult by May 1. Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California who is now in charge of the vaccination program in California told reporters during a briefing Friday his team will be ready. “If Biden and his team can deliver the supply we’re ready for it,” said Markovich.

Fresno County’s vaccine allocation for next week is 37,000 doses.

“Next week’s allocation does not include Johnson & Johnson,” said Prado. Last week the county received 10,000 doses J&J’s Janssen vaccine.

Vaccine Eligibility Expands Monday

“If Biden and his team can deliver the supply we’re ready for it.”Paul Markovich, president of Blue Shield of California

On March 15, California will begin vaccinating people 16 to 64 who have certain pre-existing health conditions. Healthcare providers should use their best judgment to vaccinate those in that age group at risk of dying from COVID-19, officials said.

Fresno County officials don’t know exactly how many people this could mean since it’s believed at least a portion of that group has already been vaccinated.

California’s official COVID-19 website says documentation of the listed qualifying heath conditions is not required, but “anyone meeting the eligibility requirements will be asked to sign a self-attestation that they meet the criteria for high-risk medical conditions or disabilities.”

Prado recommends bringing a written confirmation, however.

“Ideally (bring) a doctor’s note just generically stating that you have one of those chronic medical conditions,” he said.

Per state guidelines, here are some of the qualifying conditions:

  • Cancer, current with debilitated or immunocompromised state
  • Chronic kidney disease, stage 4 or above
  • Chronic pulmonary disease,  oxygen dependent
  • Down syndrome
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies (excludes hypertension)
  • Severe obesity (Body Mass Index ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus with hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.5%

Vohra says people who don’t fall into one of the listed categories could still qualify for vaccination based on the discretion of their medical provider.

“A doctor can say, even though the person is is not suffering from the conditions that the state has listed here, I still believe that they are at higher risk,” explained Vohra.

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