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Fresno’s Top Doc Senses “Tangible Change” in Attitudes of Hospital Staff as COVID Numbers Drop



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As the calendar gets set to change to a new month, Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra says there seems to be a change in the air.

“There’s a tangible change that I noticed just in the overall flow of how the department was doing at my hospital,” said Vohra during a Friday afternoon briefing with reporters. “Currently, we have 500 individuals hospitalized. That number is going down.”

ICU bed capacity also getting better with the county now having 12 open and available beds.

“I think that everyone in the health care system now feels like we are on a good trajectory,” said Vohra.

But, Vohra is concerned about a particular Sunday coming up.

“Really think about whether that Super Bowl party is worth it,” Vohra says.

Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer

“I think that everyone in the health care system now feels like we are on a good trajectory.”Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra

Hospital Staff Impacted By COVID Dropping

On Dec. 23, Community Medical Centers had 474 employees either in self-isolation or suffering firsthand from COVID-19. At that time, the Fresno-based healthcare system wasn’t reporting data on how many workers had been vaccinated.

CMC began its first round of COVID-19 vaccinations on Dec. 18.

As of January 29th, CMC only had 93 employees either in self-isolation or suffering firsthand from COVID-19.

GV Wire℠ asked Vohra if he believes there’s a correlation between the vaccine being given and the significant drop in hospital worker absences.

“I think certainly it contributes,” responded Vohra. “I think people are starting to see the protection from the vaccine.” He also believes with less community spread of the virus that also plays a role in how many fewer hospital employees are getting sick or coming into contact with someone with the virus.

He’s also had conversations with some of his fellow employees that were once skeptical about getting the vaccine that have now come full circle and will now get it after the results they’ve been seeing firsthand.

Rate of Transmission Dropping

“R0 (pronounced “R naught”) is a number that indicates the contagiousness of an infectious disease like COVID-19.

New state metrics show Fresno County’s R0 is at 0.85 as of Friday morning.

“That means that for every person that’s infected, there’s less than one person who’s going to catch it from them,” explains Vohra. “As long as that number stays less than one, then eventually we will drive the rate down further and further.”

Vaccine Update

The Fresno County Department of Public Health has administered 63,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

As of January 26, the county has received 99,000 doses. They are expecting 14,000 additional doses by Tuesday February 2.

For the time being there are still no first dose appointments being taken at any of the mass vaccination sites in the county.

Sierra Pacific Orthopedics remains without allocations to continue first dose clinics. “Until the state provides additional vaccine to Fresno County our drive- thru will remain paused,” they wrote on their Facebook page.

Vohra says the state may be sending additional resources to Fresno county that could change vaccine trajectory in the coming days. If that occurs, the possibility of resuming operations at the fairgrounds soon could be realized. “I’m hoping it’s next week,” says Vohra. People that are 75 years old and above would get prioritization. The county is still encouraging those 65 and older to fill out an online interest form so they’ll be contacted as soon as appointments become available.

FEMA may also start opening vaccination sites soon. Vohra heard on a call with the state that California will be getting 20 sites.

“We’re certainly hoping that that FEMA can come into Fresno County and help us again in the same way. But we haven’t heard whether that will move forward or not,” explained Vohra.