COVID-19 · Fresno

Fresno County’s coronavirus metrics continue to decline as Red Tier nears

Though Fresno County remains in the purple tier – the most restrictive category in California’s COVID-19 reopening scheme – the coronavirus numbers are continuing to trend in a positive direction, giving hope that further economic reopenings are on the horizon. 

Fresno County posted a 14.0 adjusted case rate per 100,000 people and a six percent coronavirus positivity rate. In order to enter the red tier, the county will have to see the case rate fall below seven and maintain a positivity rate under eight percent. 

Those metrics are following the same path that the county’s hospitalizations have since the peak in early January. 

As of the latest update from the state, Fresno County has 181 hospitalized patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as 17 patients who doctors suspect of having the virus. Of that total, 39 patients are hospitalized in the ICU. 

At the peak, nearly two months ago, Fresno County had about 700 hospitalizations. 

While the metrics have improved dramatically, Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra is wary to project an imminent entrance into the red tier because of the several COVID-19 variants that may present problems in the upcoming weeks. 

“The fact that these variants are circulating and that they could be more contagious really does give us a pause in terms of our ability to predict exactly when we’re going to be in the red, or if we get into red, how long we’ll stay there,” Vohra said in a public health briefing Tuesday. 

Vohra added, “I know that everyone is anxious to reopen a lot of the activities that have been curtailed or not permitted. As long as we all work together to do that safely, we are optimistic that throughout the rest of our time in purple – and then especially as we get into red – we are optimistic that we will be able to do more activities and permit more activities.” 

Along with the improvised case metrics, the county’s vaccine distribution effort is continuing in force. 

Joe Prado, a division manager with the public health department, said the county received 32,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week, bringing the total to 208,000. 

Fresno County has administered 181,000 doses to date, and Prado expects that number to reach 200,000 by the end of the week. 

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said the nation will have enough vaccine doses for every adult by the end of May, months earlier than originally anticipated. 

Is that a realistic timeline for Fresno County? 

Prado said it is because the new FDA approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine should provide the necessary increase in the number of doses Fresno County receives. 

“I think that’s something we’re planning for,” Prado said. “We need to be anywhere near 50,000 doses a week. So that’s where we’re looking at our planning to see how do we increase this system to get to 50,000 doses by May, and even above 50,000.”

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.