Local health officials urging public to be extra cautious during Thanksgiving

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Following a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, local health officials are concerned that a wave of hospitalizations could overwhelm the health care system.

That's why you're being asked to stay home and limit celebrations just days before Thanksgiving.

With the number of coronavirus cases on the rise, public health officials are urging people not to travel for Thanksgiving and limit the traditional dinner party to only the people you live with.

"Keep those gatherings short, less than two hours because the longer you stay close by the higher the chances you can transmit that virus," said Fresno County Dept. of Public Health Assistant Director David Luchini.

The number of hospitalizations in Fresno County has increased sharply as of late. Surges were seen over the summer but this surge is worse.

Officials think this latest spike is likely from people gathering during Halloween.

The rise in COVID cases is also being blamed in part on pandemic fatigue and people tired of wearing masks.

"Fresno is at 255 patients in the hospital as of yesterday (Monday), and that was 100 at the beginning of the month. So we've seen an increase from 100 to 255 in the hospitals in Fresno County, said EMS Director Dan Lynch.

With hospitals already approaching capacity, officials fear Thanksgiving gatherings and travel could overwhelm medical providers.

"This is always a tough time for the hospitals in regards to the available capacity in the hospitals, so COVID is just exacerbating that problem," said Lynch.

Health officials are also asking you to consider shopping online, rather than in-person on Black Friday where crowded stores could pose a higher risk of transmitting the virus.

Many retailers have already launched the holiday shopping season by offering deals online and through smart phone apps.

"If you could avoid that and shop online, they'll be better for our community's health. Right now stores can only hold 25% capacity of clients inside the store so be prepared to wait in long lines," said Fresno County Public Health Educator Leticia Berber.
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