COVID-19 · Fresno

Fresno Co. to see record number of COVID-19 vaccine doses next week

A year after the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in Fresno County, the county health department is seeing its vaccine distribution system being utilized to its potential. 

After receiving 32,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from the state this week, Fresno County Department of Public Health Division Manager Joe Prado said Friday that the state will be sending 43,000 doses next week. 

Of that total, 10,000 doses will be of the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine. Prado said the county will focus on using some of those doses for mobile vaccine clinics in rural areas. 

With the vaccine distribution continuing to ramp up, Prado praised the agriculture industry for its ability to quickly mobilize its workforce to receive the vaccine. 

“It was just phenomenal,” Prado said. “Our planning team, our farm business – food and ag businesses out there – it was exceptional work this week and last week where we were able to tell them a number of doses. And we were easily able to at least put 10,000 doses into that pipeline into a matter of 72 hours.” 

Dr. Rais Vohra, the county’s interim health officer, took time during Friday’s public health briefing to reflect on the impact that the vaccine distribution has had over the course of the pandemic. 

“It’s certainly been surreal,” Vohra said. “I think that the development of these vaccines has been perhaps the one really great development in this pandemic. I think that certainly I give much credit to all of our health care providers, all of our partners with boots on the ground, really all of the essential workers and the frontline staff in all of these industries that have kept working and been trying to serve the public for the last 12 months. 

“That that we are now just on the cusp of getting everyone vaccinated and working so diligently to try to get that done as soon as possible, that’s really great. I’m very proud of just how quickly we’ve moved as a county using the resources that we’ve had with these vaccines coming in. And I’m just hoping that we can race towards getting all of these vaccines done before we have any upticks in our numbers, or any other future surges, etc., that may happen with reopening.” 

While Fresno County’s reopening is still mostly on halt as it sits in the purple tier of the state’s coronavirus reopening guidelines, the number of hospitalizations has continued its drastic descent. 

According to the latest numbers updated Friday, the county has 179 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, a drop in over 100 in the past week. The county had over 500 people hospitalized just one month ago. 

The number of patients receiving care in the county’s ICU beds has also sharply declined. Fresno County has 36 coronavirus patients in the ICU. That number sat near 100 in the early part of February. 

Despite the excellent hospitalization trends, Vohra preached caution. 

“Obviously we still have a lot of grieving families, and we still have hundreds of ill people in the hospitals of Fresno,” Vohra said. “So we are not out of the woods yet. We’re still in the purple tier. We still have a long way to go before we can get back to watching a movie in a movie theater, or dining inside of a restaurant, or doing all of the things that we all really want to do. And hopefully we can all continue to work together.”

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.