Fresno County health officials push for more vaccinations before June 15 reopening

Fresno County will follow the state's lead and continue to require face masks in indoor settings until June 15.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County health officials are clarifying the current guidance for fully vaccinated people when it comes to wearing face masks.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control said eased the mask guidance for fully vaccinated people, saying they could ditch their face coverings in most indoor settings.

"That kind of took the whole world by storm if I do say so myself," said Fresno County interim health officers Dr. Rais Vohra, "But the CDC is trying to tell people that the vaccine is safe and effective."

California later announced that it would begin following the CDC's new recommendations starting June 15, when the state plans to end its color-coded tier system to reopen the economy.

Vohra said Fresno County would follow the state's lead and continue to require face masks in indoor settings until June 15.

Like California, Dr. Vohra said the health department would spend the next few weeks getting more people vaccinated and tracking the spread of coronavirus variants.

RELATED: California to reveal full June 15 reopening plan: Here's what we know so far

The June 15 timeline has been a source of confusion for many. But local health officials say it gives extra time to get an idea of how they're going to assess the risk for those who remain unvaccinated.

"Not knowing who is vaccinated, that's really the tricky question," Vohra said.

He added that creating more mandates may not be the solution to that question, "We don't want to create perverse incentives that cause even more problems."

Bottom line, Vohra suggests people get vaccinated.

"Those who really hate masking, I hope you see that vaccinating is really the way forward," he said.

Dr. Vohra said he believes it's safer for people not to wear masks while outdoors, including for students and teachers at schools.

RELATED: Will California pay people to get vaccinated? Newsom teases announcement coming soon

He said the health department has been in contact with schools across the county, saying they no longer need to wear face masks while outdoors.

"I think that's really our sense of community is going to be called into play here. We still need to trust each other and protect each other, he added.

In Fresno County, about 50% of the population has been administered at least one dose of the vaccine. About 32% of Fresno County residents are fully vaccinated.

Health officials are also monitoring the number of coronavirus variants in the county. Currently, there a little more than 800 COVID variant cases, with a majority being the California variant.

Vohra said there is a new COVID variant being recorded in southeast Asia, B617.2. While Fresno County has not seen any cases of that strain, health officials are keeping a close eye.

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