Changes to CA blueprint means Grizzlies home opener will have fans in stands

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As Fresno County inches closer to the red tier, public health officials announced promising trends, including a decline in daily COVID-19 case rates and more than 199,000 vaccine doses distributed.

Fresno County Public Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said, "I really hope we don't slip during this last mile of the marathon."

With the state dedicating 40% of vaccines to vulnerable areas, Fresno County says it's a distribution target they've likely already reached thanks in large part to community partners.

Community Health Division Manager Joe Prado said, "We wouldn't be where we're at today with addressing vaccine hesitancy, with addressing lab testing. We have to think back to the beginning of the pandemic. There were a lot of people who didn't want to get tested."

But now the county and state are focusing on the future, including an update to Governor Gavin Newsom's blueprint to a safer economy that allows outdoor spectator sports to reopen with restrictions.

The plan calls for 20% capacity in the red tier, meaning Chukchansi Park could welcome roughly 2,000 fans in addition to employees, solidifying the Fresno Grizzlies plans for a May 11th home opener with fans.

Team president Derek Franks said they've been working with the county to implement a multitude of safety protocols.

He added, "We're looking at it as a soft opening much like restaurants have had to scale back... our fans will be able to sit in pod groupings with social distancing applied throughout the seating map."

Public health officials said they're still reviewing state guidelines but are working with venues to make sure they understand the fine print and want to remind fans. They need to do their part as well.

Dr. Vohra added, "We need to be cautious that don't allow reckless behavior to upset the hard work that so many people have done."
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