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County COVID Numbers Heading in Wrong Direction in Latest Report
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By Jim Jakobs, Digital Producer
Published 3 years ago on
November 10, 2020

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California’s ‘Blueprint for Reopening‘ COVID-19 numbers dropped Tuesday on morning. Unfortunately Fresno County’s virus numbers didn’t drop, they went up.

The county remains in the ‘red’ tier for reopening for the time being. This means restaurants, churches and other businesses can continue to offer limited indoor services.

Fresno County currently has a 5.5% test positivity rate (up from 5.1% last week), and 8.3 cases per 100,000 residents (up from 6.1 last week). To stay in its current red tier, Fresno County numbers need to continue to have less than an 8% test positivity rate and reduce new cases per 100,000 residents to less than 7 over the next week.

The state’s new “health equity” positivity rate is at 8.3% (up from 7.4% last week).  Fresno County needs to remain below 8% to in this measurement remain in the red tier. The purpose of this metric is to ensure California reopens its economy safely by reducing disease transmission in all communities.

Fresno County: Prepped for Purple

Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer

“I think we’re going to be told we’re going to be in purple next week. I really do.”Fresno County interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra

Fresno County hospitals received about 20 new COVID-19 patients this past weekend according to the Fresno County Department of Public Health. A few of those were discharged pretty quickly.

“That’s a big quantity over the weekend,” said the county’s interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra.

Vohra says he and his team just surveyed all of our local hospitals to check on ICU bed capacity. There are currently about 10 beds available right now, not just because of COVID, but other illnesses as well.

When asked if he thinks Fresno County will fall back into the more restrictive ‘purple’ tier next week, Vohra gave a one word answer. “Yes.”

Vohra says it’s disappointing but not surprising the county is in this position, since the number of cases has gone up over the past week.

“I think we’re going to be told we’re going to be in purple next week. I really do,” said Vohra. He says this is a sign that much more work needs to be done.

Alternate Care Sites

Vohra also said he’s starting to have conversations with his team about the possibility of reopening an alternate care site in Porterville to help take the stress off hospitals’ patient capacity. The site was closed down around the time multiple fires broke out in the area and staff were needed elsewhere.

Additionally, the Fresno Convention Center is still available should the need arise. Vohra says the beds are still in place, and the county has even added in more privacy screens in between them.

In July, Fresno County EMS Director Daniel Lynch announced the county signed a contract with a group called AMI to provide staffing for the center — if and when it opens. GV Wire℠ asked Vohra if that contract would still apply now and he said yes.

More Restrictive Tiers?

During a Monday news conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom hinted the state will implement more restrictive reopening rules on Tuesday.

However, California’s secretary of health and human services Dr. Mark Ghaly hedged on that a bit during a Tuesday midday briefing with reporters. “We feel that the blueprint is working,” said Ghaly. “We believe California has a framework that is going to help us get through the next many months. But we evaluate it constantly.”

“We anticipate if things stay the way they are, that between this week and next week over half of California counties will have moved into a more restrictive tier,” says Ghaly. “That certainly is an indication that we’re concerned and that we have to keep a close watch.”

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