SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — With the increase in hospitalizations within the unvaccinated community, San Jose Planning Commissioner Rolando Bonilla is urging the East San Jose community to get vaccinated. 

“Everything we went through in March 2020 is feeling like it’s happening again and it doesn’t have to happen again,” said Bonilla.

“We now have a vaccine.”

A COVID-19 survivor, Bonilla is also asking Santa Clara County to open up the Mexican Heritage Plaza, which was a mass vaccination site to reach the deeply impacted East San Jose community. 

Bonilla says the county closed the site due to declining numbers of people getting vaccinated. 

“The bigger issue too though is, the county in my mind has a role to play,” said Bonilla.

“They need to continue to have sites like the Mexican Heritage Plaza available because these are centers of the community that are trusted in East San Jose, these are centers of community that you can easily educate the community on the importance of the vaccine while also actually giving them access to the vaccine.”

East San Jose was the epicenter of COVID infection rates in the county and Bonilla says he is concerned that the community’s unvaccinated individuals will create a second crisis, putting at risk more lives. 

“I do not want anyone else to unnecessarily lose their lives when there is a vaccine that exists but equally I think the county has to send a bigger message and say we’re going to double down our efforts,” said Bonilla.

“I think when you close down a center like this because not enough people are coming in, closing is the wrong thing to do, what you should do is double down your efforts and recognize that the reason that the folks aren’t coming in is because they’re concerned about the vaccine and they need further education on it,” Bonilla added. 

“So in my mind we’ve got unfinished business to do here at this center.”

At one time, KRON4 News reported in January that five East San Jose zip codes accounted for roughly 30% of the county’s total COVID-19 cases. 

Just last week, county officials announced that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wears masks indoors in public places as the highly transmissible Delta variant has been circulating. 

The county’s reported new cases are averaging 76 per day and the daily case rate is now at 3.9 per 100,000 and continues to rise. 

Bonilla tells KRON4 News with school set to resume in the fall for in-person instruction, he wants to ensure everyone is doing their part to be able to put the pandemic behind us.

“School is about to start, I’m a parent I got kids that are under 12, I want to trust that everyone is getting vaccinated, so that all of our kids can resume a new level of normalcy again,” said Bonilla.

“But it’s not going to happen if some of us are vaccinated and some of us aren’t.”