Fresno

Fresno Co. rolls out coronavirus lab facility, preps for delayed surge

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Fresno County rose to 222 on Monday, an increase of 21 from Saturday.

Dr. Rais Vohra, Interim Health Officer for the Fresno County Department of Public Health, said that the death toll remains at five.

“We do seem to be lagging behind some of the numbers and trends that have been seen in the big cities to the north and south of us,” Vohra said. “We feel like that will continue with things like the surge and the peak and even some of the resolution of this epidemic. There’s a lot of unknowns, we just know that we do have to take all of these models with a grain of salt.”

As the positive cases continue to rise, so do the number of recoveries. Vohra said 37 people have fully recovered, and 31 individuals are currently hospitalized, including 14 in the ICU.

Vohra said that about 50 patients that are currently hospitalized are also suspected of having COVID-19, but their results are pending.

Of the total cases, 36 are travel-related, 67 are from person-to-person contact, 74 are from community spread and 45 are under investigation.

The FCDPH has received and processed 3,212 tests.

The department is partnering with Fresno State to provide a lab dedicated to local testing for COVID-19.

Fresno County officials have been working with Fresno State to convert a laboratory at the Jordan College of Agriculture to serve as a temporary replacement.

“The need for timely and accurate test information has never been more important than it is now as we all try to fight this pandemic,” said Fresno Supervisor and Board Chairman Buddy Mendes. “This partnership between the County and Fresno State is critical to getting more test results analyzed quickly so we can help to slow the spread of COVID-19 here in our community and elsewhere.”

The County’s laboratory was flooded in 2018. Since the coronavirus outbreak, an unknown number of Fresno County laboratory staffers were staffing the Tulare County Public Health Lab to assist with the influx of tests.

“We’re offering some of the same technology that’s being used by other lab partners in the public health lab network,” Vohra said. “We actually have a lot of lab expertise here, in terms of technicians and directors, and we finally now have some machines and some hardware where we can put our expertise to work locally in collaboration with the biological departments of Fresno State.”

Vohra said the county hopes to bring the lab online later this week, but the lab still has to undergo some quality control before it is fully operational.

There won’t be a testing site at Fresno State, Vohra said. The FCDPH will collect the swabs and send them to the lab for testing.

“Please don’t go to Fresno State if you’re a patient,” Vohra said. “Please continue to work with your doctor. If you’re just not able to get tested anywhere, go ahead and contact us. We’re doing testing at the department of public health.”

The department also revealed more data regarding the coronavirus patients in the county.

Fresno has 121 cases, Clovis has 27, Firebaugh has 15, Sanger has 10, Selma has 10, Huron has seven, Kingsburg has seven, Reedley has seven and Parlier has six. The remaining 12 cases are from other cities in the county, which the department does not specify.

The 18-49 years-old age group makes up over half of the patients with 114, followed by 50-65 years-old with 58, 65-plus years-old with 45 and 0-17 years-old with 5.

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.