FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – In the last two months, the COVID-19 rate per 100,000 people in Fresno County increasing over 2000%.
Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said the increase in cases continues to strain local hospitals with some patients waiting outside of the emergency room in ambulances for 2 to 6 hours.
Vohra also works with the Poison Control Center. Recently, he got a call from a woman who needed a life support machine after she overdosed on her anti-depressant medication. Tragically she died because there were no machines left.
“This is a 20 something-year-old lady and she deserved a second chance. She deserved the mercy, the chance to recover,” said Vohra. “There was no bed or machine to offer and that isn’t even a COVID case. That is an antidepressant overdose case and yet that person didn’t get the full standard of care.”
COVID-19 has surged in the Central Valley over the last few months.
On July 12, the Fresno County Health Department reported 1.8 positive COVID-19 cases per 100k people in Fresno County. Now less than two months later, there are 42.3 COVID-19 cases per 100k population; an increase of over 2000%.
Fresno County Emergency Medical Services Director Dan Lynch said the biggest issue currently is staff shortages due to employee quarantines and an already underserved healthcare system. Lynch comparing the current COVID surge to a battlefield with the county reaching out to the state for reinforcements.
“In the middle of the war, when we are all screaming for help,” said Lynch. “We did reach out and they did say we are going to have to find somebody.”
The good news is that Lynch said the state and other California hospitals are starting to send a couple of dozen traveling nurses that are set to arrive this week.
“So we are actually hoping to see some change in staffing,” said Lynch. “Some relief because a lot of those bodies are coming to the hospital for assistance.”
Vohra pushed for county officials to take additional steps to decrease the current hospitalizations surge by giving grants and incentives to businesses that have high vaccination rates and mask policies.
Vohra also recommended the county officials consider an indoor mask mandate. Most county supervisors do not support mask mandates and say it is on businesses to make that decision.