FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – In the last month, COVID-19 related hospitalizations have decreased nearly 50% in Tulare, Fresno, and Madera counties.

However, with the new Omicron variant detected in California and flu season right around the corner, officials are still concerned about the state of the Central Valley healthcare systems.

According to state data, there are 191 patients hospitalized with COVID in Fresno County, which is the lowest this number has been since August 6.

The data also shows that COVID-related hospitalizations in Fresno County have decreased 41% since November 11.

COVID-related hospitalizations were down 50% in Tulare County and decreased 46% for the same time period.

“Even though COVID seems to be dropping, it is the other situation that we seem to have within the hospital,” said Central California EMS Director Dan Lynch.

Lynch said despite the significant decrease, the hospitals are full.

“They are operating over capacity, meaning they have more patients in their facility than they have staffing for, and also they are holding admitted patients in the emergency departments, including some ICU patients,” said Lynch.

In November, Fresno, Kings, and Kern counties implemented an assess and refer ambulance policy. That policy means that patients were turned away from ambulances and not transported if EMTs determined non-urgent.

Lynch said that the policy was ended on November 22.

“We seem to be doing okay in the emergency department without it,” said Lynch.

This week, Tulare County recorded the lowest number of COVID-related hospitalizations since August, Kaweah Health officials said the hospital is operating at 105% capacity.

“We have decreased a lot without COVID admissions, I cannot speak to how many patients in our emergency department are not getting admitted, but we are over capacity, but not only for COVID reasons,” said Director of Medical services Emma Mozier.

State staffing for several hospitals has been extended until the end of December.

Lynch said CRMC did not need staffing resources because the hospital was available to get their own traveling nurses.