Where will we be on June 15? End in sight to COVID restrictions

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The number of new cases and hospitalizations has trended down for weeks now in the Central Valley, but public health officials definitely hope it'll look much better by June and vaccinations are the key to that.

A short line of cars moved into position for people to get vaccinated Tuesday at the UCSF Fresno clinic on the Fresno City College campus.

Dr. Kenny Banh says the site could soon be the busiest in Fresno County and the fact that they don't have trouble getting enough vaccines is a good sign for what's to come by June 15.

"I's a little hard to project two months in the future, but I think that as our supply chain issues have been improving steadily every single week and our tiers are opening up that people who want to get vaccinated are going to get vaccinated," Dr. Banh said.

He says the pace of vaccinations usually jumps every time new people become eligible.

The state is opening eligibility to everyone 16 and older on April 15, so supply lines will become critical again.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom announces plan to fully reopen California on June 15

Fresno City Councilmember Nelson Esparza says he's optimistic the governor's green light for businesses to fully reopen in June is a good idea.

But he's keeping an eye on other states where variants are driving increases while vaccinations can't keep up yet.

"If we can vaccinate 70-80% or even more of our community, that's going to be our pathway toward reopening Fresno," Esparza said.

Dr. Banh says reopening wont look exactly like things were before COVID.

Some precautions will still be helpful - including mask wearing and distancing - until that 70 to 80 percent figure brings herd immunity.

To make that happen, he says the FDA will need to authorize vaccines for people younger than 16, which should happen soon.

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And he'll need to reach people in rural communities and people who are still hesitant.

"So there's a couple little barriers but each one of them are slowly kind of getting knocked down and as each one gets knocked down, it's not like a magic switch we turned on, it's more like a dimmer where everything we're doing is a step closer towards normalcy," he said.

The end is in sight for California COVID restrictions on businesses.

"It's exciting news for the industry," said Chuck Van Fleet. "We definitely want to find an end time and we want to be able to prepare for it."

Chuck Van Fleet owns Vino Grill & Spirits and is the president of the Fresno chapter of the California Restaurant Association.

He's advised his fellow owners on the changes they've needed to make to stay in business over the last year.

Now, he's preparing them for fully reopening, including hiring a lot of new workers.

But they also need to plan for things to be a little different.

He's also keeping an eye on vaccination statistics - partly because Governor Newsom said reopening is contingent on vaccines being available to everyone, and partly because he wants to keep his team safe.

"Starting on June 15, if we can be 100% open, that means we can also do banquets," Van Fleet said. "And if we do banquets, we need to know if people have been vaccinated. We need to know what the status is that they're at so we can bring people in. That is how we will get back to normal."
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