COVID-19 hospitalizations rise in the Valley, one hospital says many are younger patients

Coronavirus

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – On July 20, according to state data, 57 confirmed patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized in Fresno County hospitals. That number jumped to 103 just one week later.

Hospitalizations are also increasing in the South Valley.

“Just over this last week, it’s been an exponential jump,” said Gary Herbst, the CEO at Kaweah Health in Visalia.

Herbst said since July 1, there have been 57 hospitalized COVID-19 patients at Kaweah Health.

Of the 57 patients, he said:

  • 42% have been between the ages of 20 and 44.
  • 84% have indicated that they were not vaccinated.

“There are four patients now that are 20 to 29 years old that are in the hospital with COVID,” Herbst said.

And Herbst said they’re concerned about staffing.

“Unfortunately, 45% of our workforce is not vaccinated,” Herbst said.

On Wednesday, the California Department of Public Health updated its mask guidance, recommending that everyone wear masks while indoors, regardless of vaccination status, aligning with CDC guidance they updated on Tuesday.

Given the rise in COVID-19 cases and the low vaccination numbers in the Valley, Fresno resident Don Heflin said he’s keeping his mask on while indoors.

“To keep myself safe, I wear it because I know that there are other people who aren’t doing what they should be doing,” Heflin said, adding that his biggest worry is to spread the virus to others. “For me to get sick or for me to get other people sick if I’m a carrier for some reason. I have a brother who is disabled and that would keep me from seeing him.”

The CDC noted that data is showing that although rarely, even those who are vaccinated can spread the virus.

On Tuesday, the City of Los Angeles announced that city employees will be required to show vaccination proof or get tested regularly.

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer said the masking policies for city employees will stay the same for now. He said currently, employees are required to show proof of vaccination to get a sticker on their badge. If they have the sticker, they can take their masks off. If they’re not vaccinated, they have to keep their masks on.

“At some point in time, we’re gonna have the discussion as to whether or not we do mandatory testing and then I think down the road once FDA approves the vaccination, beyond the emergency use, there’s going to have to be some other discussions that take place,” Dyer said.

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