Fresno County hopes to reach more people with vaccine, one resident shares story with COVID-19

Local News

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) – Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra began the weekly virtual COVID-19 health presser Friday like he usually does. He reported the numbers. There had been an increase in COVID-19 cases and COVID-19-related deaths in the last week.

“But numbers don’t tell the whole story. In fact, they may not even tell the most important story,” Vohra said.

38-year-old Bobby Marina would be sharing his experience with COVID-19.

“What I was not considering was what it was going to do to the people around me,” said Marina, a Fresno resident.

Marina said in the middle of summer, he and his wife with other couples took a trip to a cabin near Lake Tahoe. During his stay, he said he felt his first symptom. And then people they were with started to feel symptoms as well.

Marina said the cabin belonged to his friend’s dad, who was also at the cabin.

“I believe he’s on a ventilator and fighting for his life,” Marina said. “You can imagine the kind of weight that that kind of falls on my shoulders to think he could have gotten COVID from me.”

Marina said he wasn’t vaccinated.

“I just didn’t do enough research, medical research. And I just listened to friends, social media,” Marina said.

Marina said his wife and kids also ended up contracting the virus. Thankfully, he said his kids recovered fairly quickly, but he added that he and his wife still feel the effects of it.

“I have this cough that’s been lingering for the last month and a half,” he said.

And it wasn’t until he spoke to a friend, who’s a doctor, that he was convinced otherwise about the vaccine.

“I felt like this doctor that I know, I trust, he would give us accurate information,” Marina said.

His experience outlines the challenge that the Central Valley faces in reaching people who are still hesitant.

“It sounds like what it took for Bobby and what it will probably take for a lot of people like him is to have a medical professional that they already trust beforehand to convince them,” Vohra said. “If the path to the goal means having more doctor appointments, more conversations with medical experts, then we certainly will invest in that.”

Hospital staff in the Central Valley continue to work tirelessly through this COVID-19 surge. Some hospitals are over capacity.

“Some of them as are high as 140%, which is really pushing the surge standards and almost pushing us to what we call the crisis standard of care,” Vohra said.

The latest information the health department provided was that 86% of those hospitalized are unvaccinated.

“If we can just help people realize the kind of impact it could have on them, maybe they could make a different decision,” Marina said.

Marina shared his full story during the COVID-19 presser. That can be found here.  

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