Councilman wants Fresno and Central Valley to have priority receiving COVID-19 vaccine


FILE – This undated photo provided by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University in Oxford, England. AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna have all reported promising results with their vaccines, according to preliminary data, but it could be well into 2021 before they’re rolled out on a large scale. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP, File)

February 07 2021 03:30 pm

FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – Fresno City Councilman Luis Chavez is calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to prioritize Fresno and the wider Central Valley in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations.

In a letter sent to the governor Monday, Chavez states that the CDC consistently ranked Fresno and the Central Valley one of the most vulnerable regions in the country, adding that a number of residents have pre-existing conditions.

Chavez also cites workers providing critical resources to the state are based in the Central Valley, such as farm workers and food processing workers, who need to stay healthy while the vaccine is distributed.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Honorable Governor Newsom:

As you are aware, we have experienced some of the toughest 8 months in our country’s history. We have an opportunity now that we have a vaccine for Covid-19 to get back to normal. I write this letter to urge your support in prioritizing the City of Fresno, and the surrounding Central Valley communities when distributing the Covid-19 Vaccine out later this winter.

The City of Fresno, and the Central Valley are no stranger to hard times. We are usually overlooked and underserved when it comes to receiving state benefits. However, we are resilient and hardworking people. Many of our residents have worked throughout the pandemic in essential industries to ensure that our state and our nation has food on the table. Fresno County’s essential workers have sacrificed their health, livelihoods, and contributed to the national security of our nation by ensuring a safe food supply chain during this pandemic.

The CDC has consistently ranked Fresno and the Central Valley as one of the most vulnerable regions in the country, based on the 2016 Social Vulnerability Index, Fresno County is currently scored at a 0.9666 (with a score of 1 being the most vulnerable). Many residents in South Fresno, and throughout the Central Valley have populations that have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions, asthma, and other respiratory and auto immune illnesses. But despite these challenges, these people go to work every day to provide for their families, this state, and this nation.

As the Councilmember of one of the hardest hit areas in the City of Fresno, I am asking you to prioritize the distribution of the Covid-19 Vaccine right here in the City of Fresno and the Central Valley. We must take care of our most vulnerable and high-risk populations first; especially those workers who are providing critical resources to our state and our nation during this pandemic, i.e., farm workers, meat packing and food processing workers. It is critically necessary that those folks stay healthy during this time as we wait for a mass distribution of the Vaccine. The Central Valley is the breadbasket of this nation, if those folks get sick and can’t work, the country won’t get fed -literally. It is critical that we prioritize our efforts where we can maximize the most beneficial outcomes, and that can be done right here in the City of Fresno. If you have any questions or concerns, please call my office at 621-7850.

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