Local hospitals are at or over capacity, Fresno County health officer says

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FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) – Local hospitals are reporting that they’re at or over capacity in terms of how many patients they’re able to treat given their resources, said Fresno County Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra.

“To me, that’s a concern, it means that we really don’t have any room to absorb a very much larger number of patients,” Vohra said Friday during the Department of Public Health virtual presser.

In the county, 147 people who have COVID-19 or are suspected of having it are hospitalized, 26 are in the ICU.

“I actually worked in the emergency department last night, I actually saw more COVID patients last night than I have in any of my shifts previously,” Vohra said.

The state hospital numbers don’t account for the non-COVID-19 patients that local hospitals are treating.

Vohra expressed concern about the hospital capacity, especially if more COVID-19 patients face life threatening complications and need medical care.

“We’re very concerned. We are going to have to make some hard decisions about how to allocate resources and things like that if we end up ramping up the level of admissions,” he said.

He added that if they have to start implementing surge protocols and stretching their supply lines, they have to start thinking about pulling back on reopening.

“That would actually trigger more drastic measures including locking things back down,” Vohra said.

On Friday, the county reported 321 new COVID-19 cases in one day, the highest number in a 24-hour period yet.

Vohra said in terms of COVID-19 hospitalizations, this is the highest it’s been.

“While you’re doing the basic things that you are doing with the emergency department, you’re still always preoccupied with the sense that today may be the day when we get this huge uptick and all of our hospital beds will be occupied,” he said.

“We’re gonna have to start moving the ICU out of its traditional footprint and then setting up ICU beds in other areas of the hospital and eventually invoking surge protocols that are even more drastic than that.”

The county is still waiting on hundreds of test results conducted within the Fresno County Jail. Vohra said they’re “bracing” themselves as they estimate 300 or more to test positive.

Just last night during his shift, Vohra said there were some inmates who came in to the emergency department for care.

“This was just really a matter of time before we would have this kind of outbreak in one of our congregate settings, so we’ve been preparing for it,” he said.

Vohra said he hopes more COVID-19 tests can be conducted.

The county is getting a third testing site from the state, and it will be located at the West Fresno Regional Center. It has the capacity to conduct around 130 tests, and the county is hoping it’ll be up and running by Monday.

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