CENTRAL VALLEY, Calif. (KSEE) – As the Halloween weekend approaches, here’s a look at COVID-19 numbers and where cases are being tied to in the Central Valley.
Joe Prado, the community health division manager at the Fresno County Department of Public Health, said 85% of cases since the start of the pandemic have been tied to close contact.
“As we look at close contact, what does that mean? That means we’re close to them, less than 6 feet and not wearing any masks,” Prado said. “That can occur in a family gathering, that can occur if you’re at an event where they’re not following the masking guidelines or social distancing guidelines.”
He said close contact also means someone could have contracted the virus from another person in their household.
County health officials are urging residents to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines if they choose to celebrate Halloween.
“People without symptoms can pass the virus on. So we could be well-intentioned and say ‘you know, I don’t have any symptoms,’ but actually you might be passing on the virus and you don’t even know. That’s why it’s so imperative for everyone to follow the masking guidelines, to follow the social distancing guidelines,” Prado said.
In Tulare County, according to the Health and Human Services Agency, around 50% of recent cases have been tied to gatherings. The county remains in the purple tier, the most restrictive one as far as reopening.
“Gatherings are probably the largest driver for people catching COVID,” said Karen Elliott, the public health director with the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency. “A gathering can be a wedding, it can be family, it could be for any type of birthday, and what we found too, we have a lot of pumpkin patches that have opened up.”
Days away from Halloween, Elliott offered suggestions to help try to keep residents and their families safe.
“We are always going to push to please limit the amount of people there. Right now, the guidance for gatherings are no more than three separate family households, no more than 12 people. Again, understanding that people are going to push that limit, just don’t let down everything in terms of the precautions we’ve put out there,” she said.
Some of Elliott’s suggestions included:
- Do single-servings
- Have one person serving
- Wear your mask
- Try to social distance as much as you can
- If you gather, do it outside
- If you’re not feeling well or have been around someone who has been sick, don’t go out
“You need to think about yourself, your family and those around you,” she said.
Tulare County Supervisor Amy Shuklian urged people to wear their masks.
“It’s really not that difficult to put on a mask. Just wear a mask when you go out and when you’re with people,” she said.
In Madera County, Public Health Director Sara Bosse, said 10% of cases have been tied to private events and 8% have been tied to community events.
However, the largest portion — 75% of cases — have reported they’ve contracted the virus from a member in their household, Bosse said.
“We see multiple families that are not necessarily related to each other in the same household. We also see multigenerational households, and that’s just due to low waves and trying to make ends meet and people are doing the best that they can,” Bosse said. “Very often we see large household numbers in farmworker homes.”