FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — Top Fresno health officials are begging residents to take steps to ease the burden on the overwhelmed healthcare system.
Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra’s message was clear to the public, wear a mask and get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We understand people need to work, we know kids have to be in school, we know that you have to run your errands,” said Vohra. “All of those can be made so much safer if you choose to wear a mask. Please understand that we are begging you on behalf of the healthcare system.”
Fresno Emergency Director Dan Lynch described the hospitals in Fresno County as “at a state of paralysis.” In the last week, over 3,500 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the county.
Nearly 400 COVID-19 patients are in the hospital and over 90 of those patients are in the ICU. The county has asked the state for extra healthcare staff due to a staffing shortage but only about 10% to 15% of requests are being filled.
“The state folks really lead us to believe that we are on our own,” said Lynch. “We are on our own. There is not a whole lot of help coming staffing-wise from the state.”
Vohra pleaded with residents to wear a mask indoors and outdoors while in large crowds.
Masking in the valley is a highly controversial issue with many businesses using the honor system when enforcing the state’s mask mandate that requires unvaccinated residents to wear masks indoors.
“We are the eyes and ears of the hospital and what we are seeing from our perspective makes us think really hard about the kinds of risks people choose to take,” Vohra said.
Around 50% of Fresno residents have gotten at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.