Fresno Co. health officials pushing for more vaccinations as cases rise

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For the first time since May 1, the U.S. recorded more than 45,000 new cases this week, and the country's daily case average surged up by almost 53 percent in the last week.

This comes as the vaccination rates plateau across the nation, including here in Central California.

Fresno County is now reporting 103,504 cases of COVID 19, that's up 449 from last week. This comes as less than half of the entire population of Fresno County has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Now, health experts are urging residents to get vaccinated as case rates are starting to climb again.

"Flatten the Curve" is a term that hasn't been used since the last surge of COVID cases in Fresno County, but that is exactly what Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra says we, once again, need to do.

Dr. Vohra says it'll take, "Some very basic safety measures, but if we all do them consistently, I think we can blunt this next surge that's coming."

The case rate for the un-vaccinated in Fresno County is hovering around 8-10 per 100,000 people -- while only one out of 100,000 vaccinated people are getting COVID.

The health department is now considering ways to ramp testing back up, encouraging people to get the vaccination and making sure people are masking in higher risk settings.

"With the blueprint being gone, I don't think anyone wants to see that tier system re-introduced. Just because that was causing so much confusion to begin with, but there were some saving graces of looking at things at that level because we were forced to look at the case rate week after week," said Dr. Vohra.

Health experts have yet to set a threshold that would trigger a mask mandate similar to Los Angeles County.

Dr. Vohra says, "We're still watching trends extremely closely in Fresno. We're not sure where the state is going to go in terms of requiring masking in certain situations."

Thursday's data shows almost 407,000 Fresno County residents are fully vaccinated and while that may sound like a lot, it's significantly lower than experts would like to see.

As for breakthrough infections, though the number is low, he says there could be more carriers than the data suggests.

"The methodology brings a lot to be desired because if you're feeling fine, and you're vaccinated, why would you get a COVID test," he said. "No workplace requires it unless you have to travel."

Fresno County is dealing with 33 reported COVID-19 variant cases right now. Health officials say that number may actually be 10 times higher because testing rates are low.
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