Fresno doctor says current spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations linked to Thanksgiving gatherings

Two weeks after Thanksgiving, the daily case count in Merced County more than tripled, from 77 to 252.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- There are still only 11 ICU beds available in Fresno County.

Dr. Robert Ferdman from Kaiser Permanente Fresno says Thanksgiving holiday gatherings seem to correlate with the surge he's seeing in his ICU.

"I myself have seen numerous and admitted numerous patients that do admit they did start to get symptoms or did get their exposure over the Thanksgiving holiday," he says.

"The more COVID patients we see the less beds that become available for non-COVID patients - those that are sick with things like heart attacks, strokes," he adds.

Action News compared the number of new cases reported by each county on the day before Thanksgiving to the numbers reported this Thursday, about two weeks later.

The daily case count in Merced County more than tripled, from 77 to 252.

It more than doubled in Tulare County, from 198 to 425.

Madera County saw a similar spike from 109 to 217.

Fresno's daily case count saw a smaller increase from 333 to 380.

Relief in the form of vaccines is around the corner for healthcare workers and those living in skilled nursing or assisted living facilities.

FDA emergency use approval could come any day now for the Pfizer vaccine.

"What the state is telling us is that very rapidly, within one or two days, the vaccine will start arriving to local jurisdictions," says Dr. Rais Vohra with the Fresno County health department.

Fresno County is set to receive 7,800 Pfizer vaccines in the first shipment and thousands more in late December from other manufacturers, pending FDA approval.

Vohra says the challenge will be instilling trust in the vaccine in the community

"We are going to have to do a very robust educational campaign to make sure we get people's questions answered and make them feel comfortable with what they are embarking on," he says.

There's still no definitive delivery date for Fresno County's vaccines.

Dr. Vohra estimates the first shipment will arrive sometime after December 15.
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