Health officials push masking, vaccines for all as Fresno County sees COVID-19 surge

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- COVID-19 is spreading in Fresno County, and local health officials say that a further surge in cases may once again strain hospital systems.

That's why they're encouraging everyone to mask up or get the vaccine.

"We will get through it faster and easier if everyone sticks to the safety measures we've been saying for the last year and a half," Fresno County's interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra.

He said the health department is working with the hospitals to make sure they are stocked with resources.

"I'm optimistic that we can take all the lessons we had to learned in the past and apply them to this current surge and we get get through it with minimal disruption in our healthcare delivery," he said.

Vohra added that new advancements in treatment for COVID are helping patients that weren't available a year ago.

RELATED: Fresno County health officials seeing an increase of Covid cases in people ages 10-30

There are now 163 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Fresno County. Dr. Vohra said the vast majority of those patients are not vaccinated.

The number of cases of the more contagious Delta variant is also up for the county, with 147 people that have tested positive for the variant reported.

Dr. Vohra said that the number of breakthrough COVID-19 cases among vaccinated people has also increased in the last month. Health officials have reported approximately 500 breakthrough cases in the county.

"Instead of having one breakthrough infection here and there, they're seeing whole families that were vaccinated that have come down with COVID," Vohra said.

The interim health officer said that while the upward trend concerns health officials, the best thing vaccinated people can do to protect themselves and others is to continue practicing masking.

"As long as they're doing the social distancing and doing the masking, that's really everything they need to be doing to protect themselves and their families," Vohra said.

Health officials said they're also seeing more children testing positive for COVID-19, especially those 11 or younger who cannot yet receive the vaccine.

RELATED: City of Fresno to require unvaccinated employees to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing

The health department and officials with Valley Children's Hospital encouraged children to wear face masks to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Currently, the state of California requires all students and staff to wear masks indoors at schools.

Last week, the Clovis Unified board agreed to give parents the option of filling out a form to have their child exempt from wearing a face covering due to physical or mental health concerns.

Dr. Vohra said they're working with Clovis Unified and the state to clarify the correct guidelines required for schools.

"Our understanding is that that needs to be done by a medical professional," Vohra said. "A self-attestation is not a substitute for that."

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