Although the Creek Fire is ravaging a significant part of Fresno County, there is some good news: COVID-19 case counts are on the downturn.
The numbers have improved enough over the past few weeks to give interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra hope that Fresno County can move off the purple designation, the state’s most restrictive category.
Once Fresno County moves to the red zone, some sectors – such as all schools – will be allowed to reopen.
Vohra expressed optimism during Wednesday’s public health briefing that the county has the ability to move to the red category in the near future.
“While we’re still in the purple category, I guess the one piece of good news is we’re now moving towards the red zone, and I think that that’s some welcome news,” Vohra said. “And we’re hoping that this good trend continues.”
Fresno County’s total case count rose by 75 to hit 26,640, according to data reported by the state on Wednesday.
According to numbers reported on the county’s COVID-19 dashboard, Fresno County had a 7.1% positivity rate from Aug. 28 to Sep. 8. At the peak, the county was experiencing positivity rates around 25%.
To move to the red tier, Fresno County will need to maintain a positivity rate under 8% and average less than seven new cases per 100,000 people – which comes to 70 for the county – for two weeks.
Fresno County also reported 145 hospitalized positive coronavirus patients Wednesday, the lowest number since July 5. Out of the 145 hospitalized patients, 33 of them are in the ICU, which is the lowest number since July 6.
Total hospitalization numbers peaked on July 30 with 313 patients, and ICU hospitalizations maxed out at 67 on both July 23 and July 29.
“Let’s all keep our fingers crossed and practice great behaviors, so in the next week or two we can proceed to the red,” Vohra said. “That’s everyone’s hope.”
With the latest state numbers showing Fresno County averaging 12.4 new daily cases per 100,000 people, Vohra said the county is now open to accepting waiver requests from elementary schools to reopen.
The county was previously unable to do this because it was not under the 14 new daily cases per 100,000 threshold set by the state.
“We’ve received some waivers from a handful of schools, and we continue to receive more,” Vohra said. “The waivers have to have a good solid reopening plan and really just a thinking through of coronavirus-related precautions. We want to work with schools that are interested in getting this waiver.”