Mayor Jerry Dyer speaks at a news conference Thursday in Fresno.
Written by Gabriel Dillard
Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer announced Wednesday that city employees will be required to show proof of vaccination in the workplace or face weekly Covid-19 testing.
The requirement affects 4,149 employees in the city. Best estimates is that a minimum of 36% of those employees are already vaccinated, Dyer said, with an optimistic estimate closer to 50%.
Dyer said the requirement is meant to help save the lives of city employees as well as community members as the delta variant of Covid-19 takes hold of the country. Fresno County currently has 164 Covid patients in the hospital, compared to 41 on July 11, Dyer said. Covid patients in intensive care units have increased ten-fold to 39 in that period, he added.
In the face of exponential growth, Dyer said the motivation is not to demonize those who are vaccine hesitant.
“We are not here to vilify those people whether they are employees or other. We know people have a reason for that.”
Particularly worrisome is the number of young people in Fresno County who haven’t been vaccinated who are falling ill at a rate faster than those over 65 did in previous outbreaks. An estimated 28% of those aged 12-18 who are eligible have been vaccinated in Fresno County.
No cost estimate for testing was provided, but funds are available from the state and federal government, Dyer said. The hope is to conduct rapid testing before employees start their workday.
Following Dyer’s 2 p.m. press conference, Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld scheduled a press event speaking out against “the City’s new authoritarian mandate.”
“Many employees are opposed to being forced to get these vaccines that are not FDA approved and have many reservations about it,” Bredefeld said in an announcement.
The vaccines are approved for emergency use only, but full FDA approval for the vaccines is expected soon.
Dyer hopes people bypass the “hyperbolic” political rhetoric surrounding the vaccine to do the right thing.
“We are not basing these decisions on politics,” Dyer said. “We are basing them on facts, on the information we have and the desire to save lives.”