After weeks of requests, Fresno County received more than double the minimum allotment of COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Fresno County had been receiving 8,000 doses per week since the vaccine rollout began and was rarely on the receiving end of any additional doses from the state.
This week was different.
Joe Prado, a division manager with the Fresno County Department of Public Health, said Tuesday that the county received 19,000 doses this week, which was a welcome surprise.
“Overall, the 19,000 was a great addition,” Prado said. “So what does that look like these next two weeks? These next two weeks are real key for Fresno County. We are really testing our distribution system out. This week and next week, for a total, we have 65,000 doses planned. That is first and second doses.
“It’s a heavy push within this distribution system, and it’s actually the highest that we’ve seen in a two-week period here. So we’re really going to get a sense of what our system looks like and how our teams are going to manage it.”
In total, the county has received 132,000 doses. The mass vaccination site at the Fresno Fairgrounds is up and running for second doses as well as first doses for individuals aged 65 and older.
Along with the additional doses, county health officials welcomed Monday’s news a new mass vaccination site run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will come to the area.
Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said he expects the state to announce later this week the date the FEMA site will start up and the location that it will operate from.
One oft-speculated site is the Save Mart Center, which Prado said the county likes.
“We like that site because of the freeway access and the large parking lot at the Save Mart Center,” Prado said. “Those details will be finalized once we’re made aware officially and start working through the logistics of site selection in Fresno County.”
Notably, the distribution of vaccine doses through the FEMA site will not detract from the number doses the state sends to the county on a weekly basis.
“That’s a key benefit for those doses coming into the area, but also anything supported by FEMA is always a regional perspective,” Prado said. “So as we think of that FEMA site, that will be for the Central Valley, not necessarily just Fresno County residents.”
Hospitalizations continue to decrease
After peaking in early January with about 700 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Fresno County, that number has steadily decreased over the last month, coming in at 378, per the latest update.
The number of patients hospitalized in the county’s ICU beds – while down from a peak of 148 – is still high at 95.
Overall, Vohra said the hospitals are starting to get some breathing room as the winter surge moves further into the past, but county hospitals are still near capacity due to other illnesses that usually stress hospitals at this time of the year.
“We are really just proud of all of the partners at the hospitals that have really helped us with not only treating coronavirus patients, but also getting all of their staff vaccinated and really being such good messengers for the safety and efficacy of this vaccine throughout the rest of the community,” Vohra said.