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County Has ‘Unchecked Community Spread,’ ICU Beds Below 10%



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Fresno County only meets one of the coronavirus metrics the state has set —testing, public health officials said Friday.

The county is running over 2,100 tests a day, about 600 more than the state’s goal.

But the county falls short on everything else.

The COVID-19 positivity rate is at 11.4% compared to the 8% California benchmark.

The state also wants the county to see no deaths for 14 consecutive days, which is still not happening.

And, county health officials say the current ICU bed capacity is down to about 7%, as opposed to 10% a few days ago. The county has 149 total ICU beds.

Notably, there’s been a 14% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past three days.

Fresno County Community Spread

“We have unchecked community spread going on. That’s serious,” said Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County’s interim health officer.

“We have unchecked community spread going on. That’s serious.” — Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer

Vohra says even if you don’t know someone who has COVID-19, this spread rate is affecting many parts of social life, the economy, and the ability to get kids back into schools.

In an email to GV Wire℠, Vohra said that the Department of Public Health is working closely and meeting multiple times per week with the county’s educational leadership, consulting with local and national pediatric and public health authorities, and engaging the many stakeholders involved with the complicated set of decisions involved in school reopenings.

ICU Bed Capacity

GV Wire℠ asked Dr. Vohra what happens when and if ICU bed capacity drops to 0%. Will the patient just be in a hallway?

“Yeah, that’s where it goes. As an ER doctor, I can tell you, we feel the pain … you have ICU patients lining up the ER hallways and that is not a good way to practice medicine.”

More Resources to the Valley

The state is dispatching “unified support teams” throughout the state to help counties get back on track with containing the virus.

Fresno County’s team arrives on Monday to meet with county leaders to come up with a plan to address areas where help is most needed.

“I’m actually pretty excited that we have some experts that are going to come help us really troubleshoot some of the challenges that we have,” said Vohra.

The team may help the county develop more medical and testing capacity, something Vohra says is greatly needed.

The initial thinking is this new team will set up headquarters at the Fresno Convention Center. The team won’t staff the center, which could soon open as an alternative care site, but it will be where they start their daily missions.

As for when the alternative care site might open, that date has not yet been set. Last week, county officials said the site could be up and running as soon as this week, but they’ve backed off on that for now. Part of the reason is some Fresno County patients are being sent to the Porterville overflow site to help alleviate the strain on hospital space.

City of Clovis Employees Return Monday

In more of a symbolic move, all city of Clovis employees will be back in their normal workspaces next week.

“Most people have not been working from home because of their job duties,” says Chad McCollum, public affairs and information manager for Clovis.

Some of the precautions being taken include making masks a requirement, hand washing, social distancing, and self-certification by the employee stating they are well enough to be at work.

The City Hall lobby has been open for more than a month with newly installed plexiglass and partitions to keep people safe.