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First Vaccines Arrive As COVID-19 Ravages Valley – Virus Update For Dec. 18

Community Medical Centers
A nurse at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno holds a vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Valley counties began receiving the vaccine on December 15, 2020.

The first batches of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived in the Valley this week, and for many of us, the milestone represents a light at the end of a very long and traumatic tunnel. Healthcare workers with high patient exposure will be the first to receive this initial delivery of 17,000 doses, and the Valley is slated to receive tens of thousands more by the end of December.

It’ll still be months before the general public has access to the vaccine, however, and in the meantime, new cases are being reported at record high rates across the country. Here in the Valley, new cases this week finally surpassed daily and weekly records set at the end of July during the first wave of COVID-19. This week’s COVID-19 update explores the recent data with an eye toward the future with an effective vaccine.


Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot for Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, and Tulare Counties (note that some numbers may have changed between the interview and publication):


As of Dec. 17:

For comparison, as of Dec. 10:

  • 1,742 deaths out of 151,093 cases
  • 1,055 people hospitalized and 174 in ICUs
  • In the last week, 99 people succumbed to the disease
  • Average cases reported daily in the last week: 2,055

You can always find up-to-date information for your county here.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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