Testing doesn’t appear to be an issue. Nor is housing the homeless or having the hospital capacity to handle a surge in COVID-19 cases.

But, if Fresno County wants to reopen, state officials say it must flatten the coronavirus curve and not have any pandemic-related deaths for 14 consecutive days.

Vohra said the state wants to see only seven new cases per day in Fresno County. Right now, the county is recording between 30 and 40 new cases daily.

Without satisfying those two benchmarks, the state won’t let the county open more businesses.

Meanwhile, 17 counties have received the green light from Gov. Gavin Newsom to reopen many parts of their economies. The nearest county to receive approval is Mariposa, which got the OK on Wednesday.

Tuesday Call With the State

Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County’s interim health officer, and others on his team talked with state officials Tuesday.

“The real disqualifiers for us here in Fresno County is that, according to the state, we just haven’t flattened the curve,” Vohra said. “What they’re looking at is new cases per day, and (zero) deaths over a two-week period.”

Vohra said the state wants to see only seven new cases per day in Fresno County. Right now, the county is recording between 30 and 40 new cases daily.

“These are really hard metrics,” Vohra said. “They’re quite restrictive.”

He added that the state made it clear there was little or no wiggle room on those requirements.

Fresno District 2 City Council Member Mike Karbassi gets a COVID-19 test on Wednesday at UHC’s office at Herndon and Milburn avenues. Free testing sites are opening up throughout Fresno County. (GV Wire/Jim Jakobs)

Fresno Teams with Other Valley Counties

Nonetheless, Vohra said he will continue to press the fight to ask the state to allow the county to reopen some businesses under closure orders.

In fact, Fresno and other nearby counties are working on a joint letter to send to Newsom. Health officers in Fresno, Madera, Stanislaus, Kings, and Tulare counties have talked at length about approaching the state in unison.

“We’re just hoping that doesn’t fall on deaf ears and (it) helps to advance this conversation,” Vohra said. “That we learn from them and that they learn from us about what our needs are and how we can move forward together.”

The county believes it can meet the required 1,500 daily COVID-19 tests in a matter of weeks. And, it already has the capacity to house 15% or more of the homeless population.

As to whether the state is open to allowing certain specific parts of Fresno County to reopen, the answer so far is no.

“I think they’re just looking at the county as a unit. Which again, it’s problematic. But that’s how the state is looking at it right now,” Vohra said.

Governor’s Stage 2 Reopening

According to the Governor’s COVID-19 website, a county that has met certain criteria in containing COVID-19 may consider increasing the pace at which it advances through Stage 2 of the roadmap to modify the stay-at-home order.

Here’s what can be open in stage 2.

Early Stage 2: California is now open with modifications.

  • Curbside Retail
  • Manufacturers
  • Logistics
  • Childcare for those outside of the essential workforce
  • Office-based businesses (telework remains strongly encouraged)
  • Select services: car washes, pet grooming, and landscape gardening
  • Outdoor museums, and open gallery spaces and other public spaces with modifications

Here is what some counties have been approved for, and what Fresno and its regional partners are seeking approval for:

  • Destination retail, including shopping malls and swap meets
  • Dine-in restaurants (other amenities, like bars or gaming areas, are not permitted in Stage 2)
  • Schools with modifications

4 Responses

  1. Cindy L.

    If government workers and politicians lost their jobs and were on unemployment, all the states would be open by now.

  2. Bill

    The citizens of California will reopen the state when they’ve had enough. Seems like that time will be coming soon.

  3. Robert Wilson

    The board of supervisors for all counties in the state need to get a backbone, open up all their business and industry and tell the Newsom administration to DROP DEAD!!!!!!!!

    • Pamela Barnes

      I can’t believe that so many people are acting like the lives of the vulnerable population don’t matter. Obviously, the people pushing for a full reopening have not been personally affected by this virus. That is the only conclusion I can come up with for so many people disregarding what the medical experts say and pushing for an early reopening of Fresno county. I wouldn’t feel so strongly about reopening if I could eyes and pretend there isn’t a silent killer that doesn’t discriminate and takes the lives of all ages! I’m trying to rap my head around the idea that people don’t get if they reopen and don’t practice the necessary precautions then we will be closed down again for a.longer period of time. I’m wondering if anyone has weighed out the consequences of reopening with more cases daily and more DEATHS. The experts tell us to wait until a decline or flattening but our impatient society has decided for everyone that money is more important. I know for myself that I’m afraid of getting the virus as no one can be sure they won’t be infected and immunity issues. Too little is known and the researchers are finding out new things every day. Where then did these people get the idea that they won’t spread it by reopening while there is a rise in Fresno county of cases and deaths? I have talked to a lot of people who won’t be visiting your businesses and will still take the advice of the experts who care more for our well-being than the selfish people pushing to open their businesses before it is safe. I hope you can live with yourself after an ”oops” moment when someone decides social distancing, washing your hands, and wearing face masks isn’t important and you pass the virus to someone you love and they DIE!!!!!


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