Fresno officials delay weekly COVID-19 testing plan for unvaccinated employees due to logistics

KSEE24 News

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – The City of Fresno has now delayed its weekly testing for unvaccinated employees due to logistics.

On August 4th, Fresno’s City Manager sent a letter to over 4000 employees about a new policy that requires employees to show proof of vaccination or get tested every Monday and Friday for COVID-19.

Council President Luis Chavez said because only 38% of city employees have gotten a COVID vaccine, the policy has been more difficult to implement than originally expected.

“We want to make sure as we roll this out on the 13th that we 1. Obviously, the health and safety guidelines to conform with, but also, that we don’t stretch folks thin,” said Chavez.

One of the biggest logistical issues is that if a test result is pending, the policy says employees cannot work, possibly impacting departments with staffing shortages like the Fresno Fire Department and Fresno Police Department.

“The last thing we need is for first responders to be sidelined and not be able to respond to service calls,” said Chavez.

Vaccination rates are higher in the police and fire departments, with around 60% of first responders fully vaccinated.

The Fresno Police Department has already implemented a mandatory overtime policy to deal with the high crime rate locally.

Chief Paco Balderrama said officers might have to come in to cover other officers pending results with the new policy.

“We are going to have to fill the gaps with overtime and eventually, that money is going to dry up. It is not an endless pit,” said Balderrama. “So, we will cross that bridge when we get there but we all need to pull together and do the right thing, and that is work harder and protect our families by getting the vaccine.”

Fresno Fire Department Spokesperson Shane Brown said despite the challenges, first responders will step up to ensure the community’s safety.

“We have members that are willing to step up and continue that service to the city,” said Brown. “That is something we take a lot of pride in, serving the public even as understaffed as we are.”

Top city officials and union leaders will be meeting on Thursday to finalize the plan in order to have it ready by Monday.

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