FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Many Valley counties are now one step closer to the red tier, after state health officials announced changes to the metrics for moving out of the purple.
They previously had to have 7 cases or fewer per 100,000 people. But now they're allowed to have up to 10.
Fresno County currently sits at 12.6, but Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra says that could change by next week.
"It will be easier for us to move in the red tier. My fingers are crossed that that will happen that soon," he says.
Vaccinations are also an important factor for reopening.
More than 288,000 doses have been allocated to Fresno County so far - including 37,000 set to arrive next week.
However, there will not be a new supply of the single-dose Johnson and Johnson shots until March 23rd.
Starting Monday, many more residents will be eligible for vaccines.
If you have a health condition such as cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, or any on this list, then you qualify.
However, you will need a doctor's note or you will have to fill out the self-attestation form on the Fresno County Health Department website.
"Don't get bent out of shape if your medical condition doesn't meet the list the state has come up with. There is some room for clinical judgment," says Vohra. "We really need everyone to partner and plan ahead so that we don't get a lot of bottleneck at the mass vaccination sites."
The health department is planning to open five new vaccine clinics in some of the counties' more rural areas - one next week in Sanger - and then sites in Kerman, Selma, Mendota, and Fresno City College toward the end of the month.
Dr. Vohra says Fresno County is making progress in its efforts to vaccinate the most vulnerable populations and is moving in the right direction overall.
"We can't be in pandemic mode forever, we do need to move beyond this. And we need to start thinking about how to rationally reopen but to do so gracefully," he says.
The state health department announced on Friday that it expects 13 counties to move from the purple to the red tier on Tuesday, including Kings and Tulare.
Fresno County to open 5 new vaccine clinics in rural areas this month
The new vaccine clinics will be in Sanger, Kerman, Selma, Mendota, and Fresno City College.
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