The unvaccinated are filling up Fresno County’s hospitals, many COVID-19 patients are younger


FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE) – 316 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized in Fresno County’s hospitals as of Sunday, a 48% increase from a week ago, according to state data.

70 of those patients are at Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno.

“We had gotten down to as low as six to eight patients in the hospital, you can see where 70 is a significant difference,” said Deanette Sisson, the chief nursing officer at Saint Agnes Medical Center.

Sisson said one of the biggest differences with this surge is the patients are younger.

“We have a large percentage that are less than 60. In fact, a greater percentage is less than 60 than over 60,” Sisson said.

The volume of COVID-19 patients the county is experiencing now has reached levels during the summer surge in 2020. There is a vaccine this time around – but the vaccination rates in the Central Valley continue to fall behind many other parts of the state.

“Most of our patients who are hospitalized have not had a vaccine,” Sisson said.

The demand for COVID-19 testing is also rising.

“What really has exploded has been the demand for testing,” said Dr. Kenny Banh, the director of the UCSF Fresno Mobile HeaL COVID-19 Equity Project. “On our slowest day we saw as few as 10,15 tests on some days but now we’re testing over 100 every single day and sometimes we’re doing 200 on certain days.”

In the last two weeks, Banh said they’ve also seen an increase in vaccinations on some days.

“From last month we were consistently trending down and then just in the last two weeks, we shot kind of back up where we’re averaging over 150 to 200 vaccines a day on some days,” Banh said.

And some who qualify have already gotten their booster shots.

“We’ve had about a dozen people come in,” Banh said.

The UCSF Fresno testing and vaccination sites are both located at the UC Merced Fresno Center, across from Fashion Fair Mall. No appointments are required.

As this surge continues, staffing and the availability of beds continue to concern Sisson.

“I would just hope that people do get the vaccine. It’s a huge tool that we have, and I would much rather you get the vaccine than to be here and have to say to me ‘I wish I’d gotten the vaccine’ or ‘can you give it to me now?’ because we can’t give it to you if you have COVID and it doesn’t help at that point,” Sisson said.

Sisson said they expect to see numbers rise for at least the next four weeks, but the hope is that they don’t reach levels they saw during the wintertime.

Sisson says they have not seen a shortage of equipment, but that is being monitored daily.

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