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'Decent' Chance of Getting to Orange COVID Tier Soon, County Officials Say
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By Jim Jakobs, Digital Producer
Published 3 years ago on
April 1, 2021

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The words tier, quartile, metric, positivity and case rate have reverberated across tongues since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, in layman’s terms, Fresno County is inching ever so close to loosening more life restrictions in the coming weeks.

First, the numbers that matter most right now.

The county has a case positivity rate of 3.8% (down from 4.5% last week), the lowest its been in months. Couple that with a 4.3% case positivity rate (down from 6.1% last week) in the lower health quartile zip codes, and 8.2 cases per 100k (down from 9.6 last week), and the ingredients are there to possibly move to the orange tier as soon as April 21.

California officials may improve Fresno County’s chances by loosening the metrics up a bit next week. Once 4 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the state to residents living in the lower health quartiles — rules relax just a bit.

Fresno County meets the case positivity and lower health quartile metrics for the orange tier. However, the 8.2 cases per 100k has to drop to 1.0 – 3.9 daily new cases per 100k. But, if the state hits the 4 millionth dose (expected early next week as it’s already at 3.6 million), that daily new cases can be between 2-5.9 cases a day per 100k.

“It’s a decent possibility that we can get there,” said Fresno County Assistant Health Director David Luchini during a Thursday briefing with reporters.

“It’s a decent possibility that we can get there.”Fresno County Assistant Health Director David Luchini talking about the orange tier for reopening

However, immediately after Luchini made that statement, Dr. John Zweifler dropped a caveat.

“I would be concerned still with all the openings that’s occurring,” said Zweifler, a medical consultant with the health department.

“There’s just a lot of opportunities for us to let down our guard.”

Zweifler is also concerned about the increase the state’s seeing in the differing and more contagious variants of COVID-19, including the California and B.117 variants in Fresno County. The county had no new variants reported as of Thursday.

Total Vaccine Doses Administered

As of March 30, Fresno County had administered 415,461 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

The percentage of residents 16 years and older with at least one dose now stands at 33.69%. That’s up from about 28% the week before.

124,612 residents have been fully vaccinated.

142,130  residents have been partially vaccinated.

“You’re just seeing the system kind of grow incrementally here,” said Fresno County Community Health Manager Joe Prado. He says the county is adding another mobile vaccination site in Kerman next week that will be open from Tuesday through Saturday.

“I would be concerned still with all the openings that’s occurring.” – Dr. John Zweifler

Vaccine Choice

Prado says his office has been receiving calls from residents asking specifically how they can get the Johnson and Johnson one-shot vaccine. Prado says starting Friday, the county will provide a list of providers on their website showing who has the J&J vaccine available.

“There are not large amounts of Johnson and Johnson, but if that’s what you want, you definitely want to make that call,” explained Prado.

GV Wire℠ reminded Prado that it was only a few weeks ago when Governor Gavin Newsom visited Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries and told people to just take the vaccine that was offered to them when it was their turn.

“What we don’t want people to do is decide not to get vaccinated because it’s not available to me. That’s not the case. It’s available to you,” responded Prado. “We just need to make sure we give people the information on where that particular vaccine is currently available at at the location.”

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