With the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients falling in California, Fresno County has seen a slight decrease over the last couple weeks, but public health officials are not prepared to say that the county is on the downside of the pandemic.
“As a state, we have seen a steady downward trend when it comes to hospitalizations and ICU admissions,” said county Senior Epidemiologist Dr. Stephanie Koch-Kumar. “When it comes to Fresno County, however, it’s a little too early to really see if we’re having a true trend.”
According to data last updated by the state on Wednesday, Fresno County has 273 hospitalized coronavirus patients, including 56 in the ICU.
The county peaked at 313 hospitalizations on July 30, and this week’s numbers are the lowest since July 19. The number of patients hospitalized in the ICU peaked at 67 on July 23 and July 29. Fresno County last had 60 or more patients in the ICU on Aug. 2.
“We have seen in the overall patients hospitalized that there is a slight decrease, so we’re still looking at that,” Koch-Kumar said. “However, when you’re looking at ICU admissions, you still are kind of being a little more flat there. We haven’t seen that same decrease. ICU admissions, when we’re looking at a pandemic and also the availability of beds – this is a critical aspect to look at.”
After peaking on July 21 with 7,170 positive coronavirus patients hospitalized throughout the state, that number has curved down since, decreasing to 5,442 patients on Wednesday. ICU data shows the same downward trend: a July 21 peak of 2,058 patients down to 1,699.
“Although statewide they are seeing that decrease, at this point it’s a little too early to call it for Fresno, especially knowing that ICU has not had that steady decrease that we would like to be seeing,” Koch-Kumar said.
Interim county health officer Dr. Rais Vohra pointed to the sharp increase in hospitalized patients that started in the latter half of June. The county had 71 hospitalized patients on June 20 and would see that number quadruple over the following month.
“People are still reeling from that at the hospitals,” Vohra said. “We’re still just trying to really make up for that huge burden. So even though things do look flatter, we really need to get back there before we feel comfortable.”
According to data last updated by the county on Tuesday, Fresno County has had a 5.5% positivity rate since last Friday. The county reported 856 new positive cases out of 15,540 tests processed.
Fresno County had previously reported a positivity rate above 20 percent several times over the last few weeks.
Vohra said children have been falling behind with their immunizations due to pandemic-related disruptions.
“There’s some element of fear I think because parents may not want to take their child into a clinic or a medical office out of just a fear of COVID, which is really unfounded and unwarranted,” Vohra said.
A visit to the doctor’s office is “very low-risk,” Vohra said, and pediatricians and other practices are often flexible so the shots can be administered outdoors.
“If we don’t get everybody up to date with their immunizations, it’s actually going to lead to other infectious disease epidemics that we frankly just cannot afford to have right now,” Vohra said.