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Officials Say 'Stay at Home' as Coronavirus Cases, Deaths Rise in Valley
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 4 years ago on
March 30, 2020

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Valley public health officials joined national medical experts and President Trump on Monday saying that the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic may be weeks away and reminding people to stick with social distancing and good hygiene.

“Anyone with a fever or respiratory illness should be assumed COVID unless proven otherwise. Stay home and recover.”Dr. Rais Vohra, interim Fresno County public health officer
The Fresno County Health Department, for example, stated on its website that “more cases are likely to be identified in coming days (and) “it’s also likely that person-to-person and community spread will continue to occur in the United States, California and (nearby) counties.”
Dr. Rais Vohra put an exclamation mark on that statement later Monday at the county’s teleconference.
“Anyone with a fever or respiratory illness should be assumed COVID unless proven otherwise. Stay home and recover,” said the county’s interim public health officer.

10 New Cases in Fresno County, Raising Total to 53

Officials said Monday afternoon that there have been 10 more confirmed cases in Fresno County since the last update on Saturday. The county’s total is now 53.
The breakdown for the cases: 17 travel-related, nine from close contact to an infected person, and eight through community transmission. Nineteen cases are under investigation.
Vohra said that testing remains limited based on CDC standards. Testing, he said, should go to those who would most benefit: healthcare workers, first responders, and the most vulnerable individuals.
“Not an equal opportunity killer. Some patients are much more at risk … those are the patients we need to focus on,” Vohra said.
[covid-19-tracker]

County Hospitals Have 100 Ventilators

In response to a question at Monday’s teleconference, Vohra said that there are 100 ventilators in the county across all hospitals.
How many more might the county need?
“It’s going to be more than 100. It’s probably going to be a factor of that. That is something that really does worry us,” Vohra said. “We are definitely looking for supply chains that can help us get additional machines either at the state or federal level.”

County Creates Website for Donations

The county also announced the creation of a website to facilitate the donation of unused safety equipment by the community to help combat the coronavirus.

Four Deaths in San Joaquin County

While the San Joaquin Valley communities largely have been spared the lethal consequences of the virus, the number of confirmed cases and deaths are rising.
At the Valley’s northern tip in San Joaquin County, four people have died of COVID-19-related complications and there are now 113 confirmed cases.

Kern County Sees Sharp Rise in Positive Tests

At the Valley’s southern tip, Kern County officials announced eight new positive tests Monday morning, bringing the total there to 60. One woman, a Delano resident, has died. During a news conference, officials said that the state is sending 15 trailers to Kern County to help homeless people who are suspected of having COVID-19 or have tested positive.

(GV Wire/Alexis DeSha)

Trump Extends Social Distancing Guidelines

The president reversed course from his earlier goal of ending social distancing before Easter, which is on April 12.
“The worst that could happen is you do it too early and all of a sudden it comes back,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends.”
Trump’s comments followed infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci’s sobering forecast Sunday. Fauci said that COVID-19 could inflict between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths in the United States, with millions more becoming infected but recovering.

“We continue to ask that community members protect themselves and their loved ones by staying home.” — Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County Public Health Officer
Dr. Deborah Birx, who is the federal coronavirus task force coordinator, told governors in a conference call Monday that the pandemic is “several weeks away from the peak of the curve for the United States.”
As of 1:24 p.m. Monday, the Los Angeles Times coronavirus tracker reported 720,117 confirmed cases and 33,925 deaths worldwide. The U.S. had 140,886 positive tests and  2,467 deaths. The totals for California were 6,528 confirmed cases and 135 deaths.

Newsom: California Needs ‘Thousands and Thousands’ More Health Workers

California needs “thousands and thousands” more healthcare workers to handle the incoming wave of coronavirus patients, Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference Monday.
Newsom also signed an executive order giving state officials the power to allow medical professionals to perform a wider range of duties. In addition, the order allows nurses to oversee more patients at a time. He says the executive order will be in effect through June 30.
“If you’re a nursing school student, a medical school student, we need you,” Newsom said. “If you just retired in the last few years, we need you.”
Coronavirus hospitalizations have doubled in four days to 1,432, Newsom said. He said the number of patients in ICU beds has tripled to almost 600.

A Death in Tulare County

On Saturday, Tulare County public health leaders announced the death of a person who tested positive on March 16. As of Monday, the county had 43 confirmed cases. Many of the patients are between 26 and 40 years old or over 65, officials said.
“Public Health extends our deepest condolences to the patient’s loved ones in the wake of this tragedy. We are facing a historic public health challenge and know this is a very difficult time,” said Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County public health officer. “Our top priority continues to be protecting the health of our community, and we continue to ask that community members protect themselves and their loved ones by staying home.”

18 Confirmed Cases in Madera County

Two women and a man under 25 have tested positive in Madera County, according to the county’s website. Of the 18 confirmed cases through Sunday, one person has recovered and one has died. Two are hospitalized and the others are in home isolation.

First Community Spread Case in Merced County

The first case of a community-spread infection was announced Sunday the Merced County Public Health Department. There are nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county.
“This emphasizes the need for residents to follow the stay-at-home order and only leave home for essential purposes,” officials said.
On Monday afternoon, health officials announced the planned opening of two mobile COVID-19 specimen collection centers.
The initial plan calls for two collection days per week, one on the west side of the county, and one on the east side. Each site will be open for four hours each day. The effort could expand if supply and personnel availability increase, officials said.
“This is a huge victory for the residents of Merced County,” said Dr. Rebecca Nanyonjo-Kemp, the public health director. “Being able to offer these mobile specimen collection sites will help ensure a more accurate depiction of how the COVID-19 pandemic in affecting Merced County. These numbers will help us better prepare additional preventative strategies.”

31 Confirmed Cases in Stanislaus County

Through Sunday afternoon, Stanislaus County reported that 31 people had tested positive.
In addition, county officials tweeted a cease-and-desist order to all non-essential businesses and said it would take legal action against those continuing to operate.

Kings County Has 2 Confirmed Cases

County health officials said that through Monday, it was monitoring nine individuals and had two confirmed cases among the 89 individuals tested.

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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