Social distancing. Check.
Face covering or mask. Check.
Even though you might have gotten the message, Fresno County leaders don’t believe it has reached enough people to contain the coronavirus.
Listen to this article:
A series of new ads seeks to change that.
The new campaign was mentioned during a workshop with city of Fresno and county officials Tuesday morning. The fear is the messaging isn’t hitting the right parts of the community as coronavirus cases continue to spiral upward.
Test sites are inundated. Test results are delayed to the point they’re almost worthless by the time they’re received. Leaders are looking at mobile methods that may help in the weeks ahead.
Public Education Campaign
Here come the ads.
Outdoor billboards, buses, print, radio, and social media videos will be used.
“We are rolling out a new public education campaign starting this week,” said Fresno County Health Director David Pomaville during the workshop.
Between 2,100 and 2,400 COVID-19 tests are run daily in Fresno County. That includes private labs such as Quest and Labcorp, OptumServe test sites, and county-operated facilities.
The goal a couple of months ago was to run about 1,500 tests a day. That’s no longer the problem.
The turnaround time on those tests is slow. In fact, waiting seven to 10 days for results isn’t uncommon.
“Every week presents new challenges with regard to testing,” Pomaville said.
The 183 staff working on contact tracing and medical investigation are having difficulty tracking down who came into contact with a COVID-19 patient. That’s mainly due to the test-result delays.
“Every week presents new challenges with regard to testing.” — Fresno County Health Director David Pomaville
Some of the other challenges the county faces are specimen collection and laboratory testing capacity.
Pomaville says the County will next focus on building capacity in the primary care system.
Some of the federally qualified health care centers and rural health clinics will be asked to help. Mobile testing from these sites is seen as a way to test some of the difficult-to-reach pockets of the community.
Primary Care Doctors & COVID-19 Testing
The county is looking for primary care providers to help provide more testing.
Interim county health officer Dr. Rais Vohra “is working on a health officer order that has been developed in other counties requiring primary care providers to provide testing,” said Pomaville. The order will be publicly available soon.
On July 23, Vohra issued a health officer order directed at employers, agriculture, residents, and healthcare providers.
The order asks healthcare providers to report daily febrile respiratory illnesses and to provide results for patients tested at the provider’s premises as soon as available.
“Time is scarce, denial is deadly, and failure is not an option.”–Dr. Rais Vohra, interim Fresno County health officer
City of Fresno Mobile Testing Units
To help get more testing done in south Fresno, the city is partnering with UCSF-Fresno to deploy three mobile medical units.
“The aim is to start testing at the end of next month (August) or early September,” said Brandy Nikaido, director of public affairs for UCSF-Fresno in an email to GV Wire℠.
A few more things must get done before the vans roll out. Supplies have to be ordered, the units themselves have to be outfitted, some additional staff have to be hired, and the contract has to be finalized.
In June, the Fresno City Council approved $5 million from a coronavirus relief fund to support the project.