Fresno County COVID-19 rate dips slightly, but hospitals remain over capacity

Three National Guard teams have been deployed to Valley hospitals, providing basic life support roles in emergency departments.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The latest COVID-19 numbers from Fresno County Public Health showed a slight case rate decrease compared to last week, but health officials say that isn't being felt in local hospitals yet.

"Even though some of the graphs make it look like we turned a corner, no one has told the hospitals that yet because the hospitals are extremely busy," said Fresno County Director of Emergency Medical Services Dan Lynch.

During a press conference on Friday, Fresno County Public Health reported an additional 2,813 positive COVID-19 patients and an additional 29 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county over the course of the past week.

That's down slightly from the 3,066 positive cases and 34 hospitalizations seen the week before, and while officials say that's good, they say it's a small victory that's not being noticed in hospitals.

Lynch says county hospitals are at about 108% to 110% capacity, on average, but Clovis Community Medical Center is way over that mark.

"Clovis continues to be at 130% to 140% capacity, which is just a tremendous workload and a bad situation," Lynch said.

That's why Lynch and county officials are asking for more staff from federal partners. It's unclear when that help will be coming if it's approved.

For now, three National Guard teams have been deployed to Valley hospitals, providing basic life support roles in emergency departments, but that federal help would be key in helping local ICUs.

"We have the capability of adding ICU beds to some of our hospitals, we just don't have the staffing to do it, and that's what those federal teams would do," Lynch explained.

Meanwhile, flu season is coming up fast, and Dr. Rais Vohra with public health says with people wearing their masks less often than they were this time last year, he's cautiously optimistic about keeping flu numbers down.

"As long as people are doing the common sense stuff we're asking them to do, which is stay home when you're sick, get tested, get your vaccine, we do have reasons to think that we'll have a pretty good shot at having a good outcome as far as our influenza numbers."

Dr. Vohra says the department will begin launching flu clinics at the end of the month and will continue hosting them into November.

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