Fresno County sees steep increase in hospitalizations for COVID-19 in November

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- California set a record on Sunday with 7,415 people hospitalized for COVID-19.

Fresno County's hospitalization rate was approaching levels we haven't seen since July and August.

As a result, holiday cheer will go hand in hand with holiday fear for staff at hospitals because of a spike in valley cases.

Fresno County Emergency Medical Services Director Dan Lynch said, "The hospital capacity is gone. We're in a situation where the hospitals are full. They are holding patients in areas of the hospital that don't hold patients, that are admitted to the hospital, like in their emergency departments."

We've seen a steep increase in Fresno County hospitalizations this month. Over 100 people were hospitalized November 1st, 232 people last week but the number hit 287 on Sunday.

Adding to the problem, hospitals have been under-staffed with so many employees either self-isolating or recovering from COVID.

Lynch said, "Our dilemma is we have available beds in the hospital. We just don't have people to staff those beds."

St. Agnes Hospital was ready to re-open two designated respiratory units if the number keeps rising.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gene Egerton said, "Because we are seeing a second surge, we expect to see more cases, so it is even more important to do the things we've seen telling you to do all along, like good hand-washing, physical distancing and wearing masks."

State projections indicated Valley hospitals would soon to pushed to the limit.

Governor Gavin Newsom explained, "You can see San Joaquin Valley that we project upwards of 83% of bed capacity being fully occupied just within the next month or so."

But EMS Director Dan Lynch believed bed capacity in Fresno County has already hit 90%.

The Fresno Convention Center downtown was set up as an alternate care site in April. Extra beds remained in place in case they're needed in the future.
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