COVID-19 · Fresno

Vaccine mandate on the horizon for Fresno city employees

Following in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s footsteps, Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias will soon bring a resolution forward that will require all city employees to either have received the COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing.

During the councilmember comments section of Thursday’s meeting, Arias spoke about his concern about the rising cases due to the Delta variant, which is behind his decision to bring a vaccine mandate forward at a future meeting.

According to a state database, there 100 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout the county, a number that was last that high in April. Fresno County’s hospitalizations peaked at 659 in early January.

He also said the vaccine rate among city employees – which is said totals 25 percent – is “extremely low” and “disgusting.” 

Arias said that if there is not improvement in that statistic, the council will have no other option but to mandate vaccinations. 

“We need to make sure every single able-body employee that’s essential is vaccinated, if not that we have an understanding of why they’re not vaccinated,” Arias said. “Because we have to be leading the effort of vaccinations, not being at the tail end of it.” 

That drew the ire of Councilman Garry Bredefeld, who spoke out in opposition of a potential vaccine mandate. 

“People are smart enough to look out for their own health care and their own medical needs,” Bredefeld said. 

“They don’t need government or any politicians – as we’ve seen over the last 15, 16 months who are drunk with power – destroying their lives, shutting down their businesses, telling them ‘don’t wear a mask,’ ‘you don’t need a mask,’ ‘wear one mask,’ ‘wear two masks,’ ‘wear three masks,’ ‘wear eye goggles,’ ‘get a vaccine,’ ‘you don’t need a vaccine.’ 

“So I would’ve hoped that we would’ve learned all of the mistakes over the last 15 months of how not to deal with a pandemic from Dr. Fauci to politicians, but we haven’t. And obviously there’s more to come.”

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Aug. 19.

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.