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Fresno County passed an ominous mark Friday with the announcement that 203 people have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Sixty-five of those deaths have come in August, which matches the total for all of July.

With the addition of 467 positive tests since Tuesday, the county has had 19,157 cases, according to the county dashboard.

Kraft Employees Positive for COVID-19

Some of those cases are employees at Kraft Foods in south Fresno.

A company spokesman said it was “a small number of isolated cases” in an email response to queries from  GV Wire℠.

“As always, the health and safety of our employees is our top priority. The employees in our Fresno factory that tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) are in self-quarantine at home with full pay,” said Michael Mullen, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Kraft Heinz.

“We have taken all necessary steps to identify and notify individuals who worked closely with the employees. We also have taken several proactive measures to ensure the wellbeing of our people and to help reduce the risk of virus exposure or transmission.”

Mullen said that since the pandemic’s beginning, the plant has stepped up its disinfectant regimen and redesigned employee breakrooms. Employees are provided face masks and undergo temperature checks before entering the plant, he said.

Downward Trend in Hospitalizations

“Hospitals are reporting a little bit of relief,” said Fresno County Health Director David Pomaville during a Friday afternoon Zoom call with reporters.

“Our hospitalization rates are starting to come down so that’s really encouraging,” said Fresno County Department of Public Health Dr. John Zweifler in the same Zoom call.

On July 30, there were 255 non-ICU coronavirus hospitalizations. As of Monday, there were 215.

The state’s COVID-19 data indicates that Fresno County has just 6% of its ICU beds available.

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