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2nd COVID-19 Death in Fresno County. When Will Virus Peak?



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Another patient has died in Fresno County from COVID-19, local health officials said Monday. It’s the second death from the disease in Fresno County since Friday.

The male patient was described as elderly and passed away at an area hospital, the Fresno County Department of Health reported. The number of confirmed cases in the county climbed to a total of 124.

Disagreement Over Virus Peak Timeline

As the number of new cases increases and the death toll rises across the state, there’s disagreement over when the effect of the disease will reach its peak in California.

A new analysis from the University of Washington shows California’s COVID-19 peak will hit around April 15, a month sooner than Gov. Gavin Newsom is projecting.

Newsom is sticking with a mid-May estimate for when the virus outbreak will be at its worst in the state, with patient loads and deaths at their highest levels.

The university forecasts the highest daily total of deaths occurring on April 17 and 1,783 overall, down from the more than 5,000 deaths predicted last week.

Model Paints More Optimistic Picture for State

The University of Washington says the more optimistic picture for California is because of the steps taken to keep people from spreading the disease, like local and statewide “stay at home” orders.

“The trajectory of the pandemic will change – and dramatically for the worse – if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions,” warned Dr. Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.

The statistical model is updated daily for all 50 states and was developed to help hospitals and health systems prepare for the surge. It is a tool for many government officials.

Another Death in Tulare County

Through Monday evening, the San Joaquin Valley had 866 confirmed cases and 24 deaths. Eleven of those deaths were in San Joaquin County, according to health department data.

Tulare County has seen six deaths out of 135 confirmed cases as of Monday evening. Two deaths have been reported in Madera, as well.

Still, the rate of hospitalizations and intensive-care placements — a key indicator of resources the state needs — have been increasing more slowly. Both rose less than 5% over the weekend. It was enough that Newsom felt comfortable loaning 500 ventilators to other states.

Newsom gave an update on California’s virus efforts at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento as workers prepared 400 hospital beds. It’s part of a plan to add an extra 66,000 hospital beds and 10,000 ventilators.

Increasing Cases in Weeks Ahead, Governor Says

The governor said the state’s forecast shows cases will continue to increase in the weeks ahead.

“Just in ICU and hospitalizations, two most critical numbers from our perspective, that growth has been steady. And if you extend that out, we are looking at a path into May before we peak.”

The state’s early decision to implement “stay-at-home” restrictions have helped slow the spread of infection and allowed the state to better prepare the necessary response, Newsom said.

“This allows us to do the kinds of things that frankly some other parts of this country weren’t able to do because they were overwhelmed.”

LA Mayor Predicts Surge

Two weeks ago Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said his city was just six to 12 days away from the kind of crushing surge afflicting New York City. He told The Associated Press on Monday he expects to see a peak in the number of fatalities in two to five weeks.

He said data shows the number of cases in Los Angeles County, the nation’s largest with about 10 million residents, continues to increase but at a slower rate. Two weeks ago, the number was climbing at an average of 27% a day, while last week it dipped to 18%.

“I’m encouraged that early action we took seems to be showing some good signs of slowing this rate of increase,” he said.

But “projections are pretty fragile,” he warned. “You can change an input by just a little bit, and suddenly see numbers soar or greatly reduced.”

Los Angeles County has about one-third of California’s roughly 15,400 virus cases. The state as recorded at least 359 deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

The coronavirus is spread by coughs and sneezes and for most people it causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

GV Wire contributed to this report