New numbers from the state Tuesday show Fresno County has had a 97.7% increase in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the past 14 days.

During the same time frame, the county has seen a 33.3% increase in ICU cases. Public health officials report that 200 of 270 ICU beds are occupied (40 of those ICU patients are COVID-19 cases), and some hospitals are moving to emergency protocols.

“I think July is going to be very tragic in terms of the number of hospitalizations and the number of fatalities that we see.” — Fresno County interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra

In addition, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office reports 507 inmates at the jail have tested positive for COVID-19. There are still 186 tests pending.

And, sheriff Margaret Mims tells GV Wire℠ through a spokesperson that she will not enforce the state- and county-ordered closure of brewpubs, breweries, bars, and pubs.

However, the county department of health says it will enforce the bar closure.

Fresno County COVID-19 Cases

“Get a mask, and start using a mask,” said county interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra during a media briefing via Zoom on Tuesday. “Our cases are not currently under control.”

In the past two weeks, Fresno County has seen 1,915 new coronavirus cases.

“This last week of having increased case counts, gives me a lot of indigestion going into the rest of summer,” said Vohra. “I think July is going to be very tragic in terms of the number of hospitalizations and the number of fatalities that we see.”

Jail Quarantine and Testing

A jail quarantine began June 19, leaving several more days to go until the recommended 14-day quarantine period is over.

In addition to the 507 positive inmates, the sheriff’s office reports that 25 correctional officers and one deputy have contracted the coronavirus.

The overwhelming majority of the positive inmates are housed in the north jail annex, the sheriff’s office says.

“We want to ramp up testing so we are going to go ahead and try to test every single individual (in the jail), a staff member, an inmate, a medical provider,” Vohra said. “We want to set up a paradigm of just testing people regularly.”

Vohra says there is a silver lining.

“Most of the inmates and most of the staff that have been asked to quarantine are asymptomatic or very mildly symptomatic,” said Vohra. “I think it just basically highlights what we’ve already known about this viral infection, which is that asymptomatic spread in crowded settings, especially indoors, is definitely a thing, and it’s definitely something that allows this virus to get around.”

Sheriff Not Enforcing Bars Closure Order, but Others Will

According to a Fresno County Department of Public Health order Monday afternoon, “Brewpubs, breweries, bars, and pubs, shall close until those establishments are allowed to resume operation per state guidance and local permission, unless they are offering sit-down, dine-in meals. Alcohol can only be sold in the same transaction as a meal.”

portrait of Nathan Magsig

“The county of Fresno has been relying on voluntary compliance as we move through this pandemic.” — Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig

One member of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors says bars could have their ABC license revoked if they don’t comply, inferring it’s up to the establishment to determine whether they’ll abide by the order or not.

“The county of Fresno has been relying on voluntary compliance as we move through this pandemic,” supervisor Nathan Magsig tells GV Wire℠ by email. “The board of supervisors is committed to keeping all residents of Fresno county safe while preserving individual liberties.”

GV Wire℠ emailed a question to sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti: “Will the Sheriff’s Department enforce the no open bar mandate?”

Botti answered: “Negative.”

Fresno County Environmental Health Team

The Fresno County Department of Health says its environmental health team will actively enforce the bar closure.

“We are going to try to work with the industry to educate them about what the requirements are,” says health director David Pomaville. “We will work with them to make sure that they’re following the order both of the County Health Officer as well as the State.”

8 Responses

  1. MGomez

    Dr. Vohra, last month you said you welcomed an increase in the number of COVID cases in Fresno County because that would trigger more money from the Federal government.

    Now, you have indigestion due to the increased number of COVID cases.

    Make up your mind. This is why nobody listens to you when you repeatedly take the podium.

  2. Alex station

    sheriff Margaret Mims Got caught when inmates started complaining to lawyers and when they got transferred to other places and all the inmates were test positive

    She had no place acting like a doctor she doesn’t care about the inmates but look at the sheriff and other contacted workers that got infected because they did not and still don’t have a plan in the jails just bouncing them around from unit to unit

    • Steve J

      You really don’t know how un-serious the Chinese Flu is to younger people? Do you know what the average age of death is? Sheriff Mimms does, and she appears to be using common sense and data in her decision making; unlike our mayor, 6 out of 7 City Council members, Vohra, and the Governor. What do you want her to do, release them? Fine, but only if they stay at your house. There is only ONE WAY to beat this virus; herd immunity. We need as many young, healthy people to get it as quickly as possible. That is the only way to protect the most vulnerable.

      • DogsRule

        You have a very poor grasp on the facts of this situation. Younger people do not live on an island; they live in the same society as the rest of us. The more of them that get the virus, the more it spreads around the rest of the population. Death is not the only thing to fear. First, young people can and do die from Covid-19. Thankfully in lower numbers than others. Second, some get serious health complications and I’m sure you don’t want that to happen to anyone in your family. Third, even if they recover just fine or never even have symptoms they can pass it on to others- we do not need a ton of Typhoid Marys running around and spreading this virus. Herd immunity requires 70 to 75 percent of the population to have antibodies to a virus -as a nation we are at lower than 5 percent. We are going to have to wait for a vaccine and until then do our best to protect each other and ourselves – wear masks when out of our homes, stay 6 ft away from those we don’t live with as much as possible, and just be aware and careful as much as possible for the next 9 months or so. Businesses and restaurants are adjusting- requiring masks, limiting numbers of customers inside or reducing seating, sanitizing surfaces. That’s the best we can do and we owe it to each other as fellow Americans to be considerate of each other as neighbors. Science is based on evidence and facts. Opinion and politics has nothing to do with it or the reality of this situation. Let’s be kind to ourselves and our neighbors and have respect for the health of our community and country.

  3. Steven Jordan

    What a horribly written article. This is a fear mongering article along the lines of CNN and Huffpoo. Congratulations. Where are the pertinent FACTS? The absence of important information is why people KNOW that Vohra is nothing more than an over educated bureaucrat who is most likely over his head. It’s also why people don’t trust Dr. Brand, Dr. Arias, and Dr. Newsome. How many of these maybe positive (these tests are known to have 25%+ false positives) cases are asymptomatic? Of the 40 patients that are hospitalized, what is the average age and what are some of the underlying conditions? Why are they even getting tested? REALLY? Only 40 patients? That gives that dipwad indigestion? Then he is over his head for sure. Did you ask Vohra, or anyone, how many seasonal flu deaths we’ve had? They are pretty much non-existent this year because they are coding all of them as Chinese Flu deaths. Why instill fear by reporting a 33% increase in ICU patients? That’s only 10 more patients. 10! Why not just report the actual numbers and let us decide if the world is coming to an end?
    I have enjoyed GV Wire over the last 30 days or so, but this is the second article that concerns me about your intent and trustworthiness. If you want to be a “Newapaper”, then report news WITHOUT sensationalism. If you want to toe the line for Dr. Newsome and Dr. Arias, be honest about it. You’re at a decision point, I guess. Remember, there is a very good and deserved reason that the Fresno Bee is now the size it is. Carpe Diem


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