Fresno · Highlight

Fresno Co. presses state for more help to combat coronavirus

During a press briefing Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom singled out Fresno County as currently experiencing concerning trends with the coronavirus pandemic. 

Fresno County is one of 13 counties on Newsom’s “targeted engagement list” that will receive extra support and attention from the state. 

On Tuesday, Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra addressed the county’s situation and was not surprised with the recent numbers, saying he expected the number of cases in the county to continue to increase and not fall off as people go back to work and businesses reopen. 

As of numbers reported Tuesday, Fresno County has 1,921 active cases and has had 57 fatalities due to coronavirus. There were 82 new cases reported Tuesday. 

Out of the 2,788 total cases, 810 patients have fully recovered. 

“Even before we got on this targeted engagement list we knew we had challenges, we knew we had vulnerable populations, and we had already started addressing them,” Vohra said. “So things like our nursing home populations which are, again, places where we are seeing many cases and unfortunately many fatalities. 

“We were already very aggressive in my opinion about getting the resources, the testing, and the protocols in place. It’s just a very unfortunate situation that whenever you have an outbreak in a nursing home it’s extremely hard to control, and whenever it affects older patients that have multiple medical problems, it’s just a very unforgiving disease. And that’s just the reality of coronavirus.” 

In order to improve Fresno County’s outlook compared to the rest of the state, Vohra said the Department of Public Health has been in constant contact with the state and is asking for a third OptumServe testing site.

The two testing sites the county previously received from the state are located at Fresno City College and in Sanger. The sites can perform up to 130 tests per day. 

“Another major ask that we have from the state – and I’m really optimistic that we’ll make some advances there – is to help us work with some organizations and employers that are not necessarily under our jurisdiction here in Fresno County,” Vohra said. 

Vohra noted Avenal State Prison as an example – located in Kings County – which has employees who live in Fresno County. The FCDPH would like to have better communication and collaboration with employers like Avenal State Prison to better its contact tracing program. 

As various businesses such as nail salons and movie theaters are slated to reopen over the upcoming weeks, Vohra said he is confident that the county is on track and comfortable with the reopenings as long as the businesses follow the county’s guidelines. 

Vohra also encouraged anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 to donate blood and plasma. 

“It’s important for people that have gone through this experience once they are recovered to consider donating blood and especially donating plasma,” Vohra said. “That’s because one of the best therapeutic options that we have at this time is the antibodies and the plasma of patients that have recovered from coronavirus. That can actually be used to help patients that are still struggling.” 

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.