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Rapid COVID Tests Promised by Trump Arrive in Fresno. Where Will They be Used?
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By Jim Jakobs, Digital Producer
Published 3 years ago on
October 17, 2020

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The Fresno County Department of Public Health is developing a plan to deploy 18,000 rapid COVID-19 tests the Trump administration hoped would be used to quickly reopen schools.

They’re among about 100 million of the tests the federal government is distributing to states. Interim county health officer Dr. Rais Vohra announced the tests had been received during a Friday afternoon video call with reporters.

Tests Can Provide Results in 15 Minutes

Vohra says the new tests are manufactured by Abbott Laboratories.  About the size of a credit card, the tests are the first that do not require specialty computer equipment to process. Although not as reliable as results from a throat or nasal swab, the new tests provide results in about 15 minutes for patients who are exhibiting symptoms.

County leaders are meeting next week to determine where they should be deployed. Though the Trump administration recommended them for schools, it was not a directive.

Wherever they go, Vohra said someone at the site will be trained by the county to deliver the results not only to the patient but also to the county health department for disease surveillance.

Pleased With County’s COVID Tier Status

Vohra said he was pleased the county stayed in the state’s ‘red’ tier for reopening this week, which allowed businesses like restaurants to continue with indoor operations. The county numbers would have been stronger if more daily testing had been conducted, he said.

The state gives counties that meet a certain testing threshold additional credit toward their weekly COVID-19 metrics . Vohra says for a county the size of Fresno, the state would like to see between 2,300-2,500 tests a day. “We’re usually about 2,000 tests a day,” he said.

Vohra said Fresno County restaurants, movie theatres, salons and other businesses are largely complying with indoor capacity limits that range from 10%-25%.

GV Wire℠ asked Vohra if his office has seen any complaints related to non-compliance of the COVID-19 rules, he said no.

“I think it really speaks to how well everyone is doing,” said Vohra.

COVID-19 Compliance Complaints

But at least one restaurant in the city of Fresno was given a warning recently after a video surfaced showing that capacity and spacing limits weren’t being followed.

Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias  obtained the video recorded at Las Micheladas restaurant on East Shaw Ave. In it, a large group of people can be seen dancing close together inside and not wearing masks.

A city enforcement official confirmed that a complaint about Las Micheladas was received and an investigation resulted in a notice to the business.

Watch Video of Las Micheladas Restaurant Here

Kaweah Delta Medical Center Allowing Visitors Again

Due to a continued decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Kaweah Delta has restored elective surgeries and effective Monday, the Medical Center will modify its visitor policy.

“Things have changed. The pandemic has had its peaks and valleys. We’re experiencing a valley right now,” said Gary Herbst, Kaweah Delta’s Chief Executive Officer in an email, noting that the Medical Center cares for approximately 20 COVID-19 patients on most days, down from hospital’s all-time high of 91 COVID patients in July. “We also recently dipped into the teens and that’s really the break we’ve been hoping for.”

The visitor policy modification will generally allow patients of Kaweah Delta Medical Center, who are not in isolation for COVID-19 (with the exception of patients in the Emergency Department and those having surgery) to have one unique visitor each day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. provided they:

  • Pass a COVID-19 screening prior to 6 p.m. at the hospital’s Acequia Avenue entrance.
  • Have not recently tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Are not in quarantine for COVID-19 (pending testing, exposure, etc.).
  • Are older than 12 years old.
  • Wear a surgical face mask.
  • Remain in the patient’s room except to use the restroom or get food.

Herbst noted that while a unique visitor will be allowed, that’s one visitor per patient, per day, not several visitors who rotate through an hour at a time.

Halloween Guidance

Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer

“If you’re gonna have a gathering full of people that’s indoors where people aren’t wearing masks, then that is very, very risky. And that that really should not be done this year.”Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno county interim health officer on Halloween 

Many traditional Halloween celebrations – such as parties and in-person, door to door trick-or-treating – pose a high risk of spreading COVID-19 and could put your family and loved ones at risk, according to newly released state guidance.

“If you’re gonna have a gathering full of people that’s indoors where people aren’t wearing masks, then that is very, very risky. And that that really should not be done this year,” said Vohra.

According to the state guidance, the safest way to celebrate Halloween is to spend time with people in the same household or to celebrate virtually.

Some specific alternatives that are low risk but still capture the holiday fun include:

  • Creating a haunted house or candy scavenger hunt in your home
  • Having a scary movie night and Halloween-themed activities (pumpkin carving, face painting) at home
  • Participating in online parties/contests (e.g. costume or pumpkin carvings)
  • Attending car-based outings where people do not leave their car including drive-in events or contests or movies; driving through an area with Halloween displays
  • Eating a Halloween-themed meal with your household (alone or with up to 2 other households, not including your own, for a meal outside following all other gathering guidelines)
  • Enjoying a Halloween-themed art installation at an outdoor museum with your household
  • Dressing up homes and yards with Halloween-themed decorations
  • Giving treats at home only to those in your household.
  • Send a curated playlist and/or themed treats (or tricks) to your friends ahead of time.
  • Designing face masks that reflect your child/ren’s Halloween costumes
  • Prepare a Halloween basket for your children or Halloween hunt in your backyard

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