FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Hospitals are reaching capacity, and doctor's offices are playing catch up on appointments.
It has left many sick patients in the Valley turning to urgent care facilities, such as American Family Care in northwest Fresno.
"We've probably seen an increase in patient flow for about the last month or so," explained center administrator Belinda Fonseca. "It's between 70 to 80 patients a day. We anticipate to probably hit about 100 by the end of the year."
Meanwhile, the three Saint Agnes urgent care locations are also seeing a rise in patients.
"This is common during this time of year with people spending more time indoors," said Dr. Rachel D. Yankey. "We will also see an additional small spike after the holiday as a result of people coming together in large groups, which allows germs to spread more easily."
According to Fonseca, the amount of patients coming in a day to AFC isn't the only difference from last year's virus season. Doctors are also seeing patients come in with symptoms similar to COVID or the flu, but testing negative for both.
She said it's been frustrating for doctors and patients since there's no real diagnosis other than it's a type of virus.
"We also have patients coming back for the second time, even the third time with the same symptoms, but they still test negative, which is the most challenging with our providers," Fonseca said.
In addition, Fonseca said many patients are going to AFC that need more care than the facility can provide, so there's been an increase in EMS transports to the hospitals.
The facility only expects it to get worse throughout the holiday season.
According to Fonseca, AFC staff is already staying an hour after closing time to get every patient in, and now they're anticipating the need for more doctors.
"We have now double providers as a result of it. We're actually speaking about even doing three providers," she said.
According to Dr. Yankey, most viral illnesses can be managed at home with rest, hydration, over-the-counter medicines and natural immune system boosters (fruits, vegetables and vitamin supplements).
"If someone experiences extreme symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, a prolonged fever, inability to keep fluids down or has persistent symptoms for more than 10 days, it's best to come into an urgent care or to your primary care provider to get a full physical examination," she said.
Local doctors stress wearing masks, getting vaccinated and avoid sharing items -- in hopes of stopping the spread of this year's viruses.