FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE) – COVID-19 hospitalizations in Fresno County are now rising at a faster rate than they were in the last couple of weeks, with 232 patients with coronavirus hospitalized in the county as of Sunday.
In addition, 15 who are suspected of having COVID-19 are also hospitalized. On Nov. 15, one week ago from the most recent update, 155 patients with coronavirus were hospitalized.
That’s a 50% increase in just one week.
“The hospitals are extremely busy and full. A lot of the bigger hospitals are holding patients in their emergency rooms that are admitted to the hospital. Some of them are ICU patients, and it’s very concerning at this time for the hospitals,” Fresno County Emergency Medical Services Director Dan Lynch said.
He said COVID hospitalizations are accelerating at a faster pace than they were last week.
“Even at the beginning of November, we were at 100 patients in the hospital and now we’re over 230 patients. That’s a bigger number and a higher acceleration than it was in July,” he said.
He said it’s concerning because now, they don’t have some of the resources they did in July.
In July, hospitals like Community Regional Medical Center had a medical team with the Department of Defense assisting them.
Lynch said his major concern now is the staffing shortage that exists. He added that some staff are quarantining from exposure or have COVID-19 themselves.
“We’re talking about a workforce that is extremely exhausted. They’ve been through it, they’re getting ready to go through it again. It’s very difficult for them. This is what we’re dealing with right now. We have a lot of sick calls, a lot of people trying to get rested because they know what they’re in for,” he said. “We may have the capacity in the hospitals, but we don’t have the staff to cover those beds in the hospital.”
Lynch said they’ve asked the state for staffing resources and are waiting to hear back.
The peak of the surge in July in the county reached more than 310 COVID-19 patients hospitalized. Lynch said he’s more concerned about the surge the county is experiencing now.
“It appears that the trajectory is a little bit higher than the one that was in July. And unless we see something flatten out, we’re gonna be back into the same situation or a little bit worse than we were in July,” he said.
The alternate care sites in Porterville and inside the Fresno Convention Center have not been activated. Lynch said they’re not at that point where they need to yet, but they are preparing.
In Tulare County, cases are rising with 200 new COVID-19 cases reported on Monday, said Carrie Monteiro, the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency public information officer.
She said they estimate that 10% of the recent cases they’re seeing will end up needing hospital care.
Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia is caring for 46 COVID-19 patients as of Monday morning. On Nov. 3, that number was at 26.
Monteiro said two to three weeks ago, the county’s case rate was at 9 to 10 COVID-19 daily cases per 100,000 people. She said that number now is at 17.
She added that their positivity rate increased from 4% to 7% in just a couple of weeks.
“Throughout this entire year and this entire pandemic, we have not seen rates increase this much in California and we’re seeing it here in Tulare County,” Monteiro said.
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge at higher rates throughout the Valley and the state, health officials are urging residents to not gather with others outside their household and to think about the impact their decisions will have in the next couple of weeks and months.
“We need to help stop the spread and recognize the days to come are really important,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said.