‘Risk is relative’: Central Valley health officials continue to urge prevention measures as COVID-19 cases rise


FRESNO, California (KGPE) — Central Valley county health departments are reinforcing the need to prevent COVID-19 spread like social distancing, saying risk should be considered elevated regardless of the number of cases.

Tulare, Merced, Fresno and Madera counties all confirmed one new case Wednesday. Tulare County and Merced County both confirmed their latest cases are travel-related, while the other two are still investigating how the infection happened.

Merced County’s public health director Rebecca Nanyonjo-Kemp said the newest patient is doing well in isolation, after being tested when showing symptoms. She adds they’re still investigating and tracing the individual — but it wasn’t anywhere in Merced County.

“We do have some idea of where they would have been exposed, not necessarily where they acquired it,” she said.

Even with just two travel-related cases, Nanyonjo-Kemp can’t say risk is low in the county because lack of testing kits make the real numbers elusive.

So, like most health officials right now, she is stressing the urgency to do things like social distance and keep up good hygiene to prevent spread.

“What we see is what we’re allowed to see, with the number of tests provided. If there were an abundance of tests and anybody could get tested, we’d have a better idea,” Nanyonjo-Kemp said. “But, because there’s that huge unknown, it should be treated as anything could be a potential risk.”

Down in Tulare County, travel continues to be the main cause of COVID-19 infection. Since domestic locations aren’t on any federal watchlist, it’s on the travelers to notify their health departments if they returned from an area with a lot of confirmed cases.

Tammie Weyker-Adkins, public information officer for the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency, said for the most part people seem to be complying.

“We have had a very high-rate of people willing to do that. I think in an effort to not only keep themselves safe, but others safe as well,” she said.

If you think you’ve been exposed or are showing symptoms, call 311 to get in touch with your county. You can also call your doctor.

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