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Cautious optimism radiated from Tuesday’s Fresno County Department of Public Health Zoom call as the state released improved COVID-19 numbers.

For the time being, Fresno County remains in the purple tier, indicating widespread COVID-19.

However, according to the state dashboard, the county is at a 6.2%  case positivity rate (needs to remain below 8% for next tier), and dropped to 7.8 cases per 100 thousand residents (needs to remain below 7 cases per 100,ooo for the next tier).

The next tier is red, meaning ‘substantial’ COVID-19 but that would allow the county to approve K-6 elementary schools for a slow reopening.

The state provides weekly updates on Tuesdays. Fresno County interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra says next week’s update will be insightful. That’s because it will reveal the impact of the Labor Day weekend on COVID-19 spread.

Cautiously Optimistic

Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer

“I was excited about those numbers. I do think we have to be cautious. It’s not over until it’s over.”  Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer

“I was excited about those numbers,” responded Vohra to a GV Wire℠ question. “I do think we have to be cautious. It’s not over until it’s over.”

Vohra also said that advancing from the purple tier into the red tier doesn’t mean the county is done with the pandemic.

Impact of Wildfires on Health, Restaurants

Vohra said that the Creek Fire and other Valley wildfires are an added complication.

“The confluence of the coronavirus with the wildfire smoke may in fact tip some people over, whereas if someone maybe had a mild case of COVID they would have gotten better on their own,” said Vohra.

The wildfires could also have another negative affect not necessarily related to the bad air quality, but how it’s changing people’s behavior.

“I think the air quality is going to impede people trying to be outdoors as much as possible,” explained Vohra. “I know that a lot of our diners and restaurants are frustrated because they have to do outdoor services.”

The Department of Public Health asked the state if the county could allow restaurants to have indoor dining during excessive bad air quality issues. The state turned down the request.

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