Local hospitals say number of COVID-19 cases is creeping up again

Doctors are urging people to keep gatherings small, wear a mask and keep a 6-feet distance even if people at the gathering have tested negative ahead of time.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Local hospitals say COVID-19 cases are creeping up once again.

Dr. Jeffery Thomas says there were about 220 hospitalized coronavirus patients during the so-called 'summertime surge' at Community Medical Center Hospitals.

That number eventually dropped to about 25 patients across the Community Hospital system. But the cases are now rising once more.

"That number is creeping up somewhere between 50 and 100," said Dr. Jeffrey Thomas of Community Medical Centers.

As of Thursday, there are 83 hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients across Community hospitals.

"Perhaps the biggest concern is the weather," said Thomas. "More people are prone to be inside and in closed environments."

At St. Agnes Hospital in Fresno, a similar trend in hospitalizations is occurring.

"Our volume of COVID cases has gone up just about 25% over the last couple of weeks," said Chief Operation Officer Kim Meeker.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates the national coronavirus death total could be up to 282,000 by December 5.

With holiday gatherings around the corner, health officials believe another surge is inevitable.

It's why Dr. Kenny Banh from UCSF Fresno is urging people to keep gatherings small, wear a mask and keep a 6-feet distance even if people at the gathering have tested negative ahead of time.

"Testing alone does not replace social distancing, mask-wearing," said Bahn. "It doesn't protect you."

In addition to the holiday impacts, officials at St. Agnes say the flu season will only further fill their hospital.

"Flu alone brings in lots of hospitalizations and can really overload a hospital," said Meeker.

She and other medical professionals are urging the public to get a flu shot to help ease the overall infections.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes at St. Agnes, preparations are underway for when a vaccine is released.

"One of them in particular that we are expecting to be the most likely vaccine to come out requires a very cold temperature," said Meeker. "So we are working on sub-zero freezers or dry ice."
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.