‘It’s a mess’: Fresno County calls on state amid COVID-19 hospitalization surge

California

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — Fresno County Health Officials called on the state to send help with what they are calling a health care mess Friday.

This development comes as the county experiences a rise in COVID-19-related hospitalizations and intensive care unit patients, surpassing the number from the summer 2020 surge.

“It is a mess,” said EMS Director Dan Lynch. “I can tell you right now, we have very little ICU capacity for our seven counties.”

On Friday, Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra reported 424 new COVID cases in Fresno, with COVID-related hospitalizations at 338 and 56 ICU beds taken.

Vohra said that because the county is underserved when it comes to health care, the COVID-19 surge is creating a bottleneck.

“A lot of people think ‘Oh, I don’t have COVID,’ or ‘I have had COVID, or I am vaccinated’ so this healthcare story doesn’t matter to me and I can just tune it out,” said Vohra. “That is absolutely not true. You could have a car crash this afternoon, you could have chest pain, and we need to have our hospital functioning for these non-COVID things that come in all the time.”

The current hospitalizations are the highest since February and have surpassed the numbers reported during the 2020 summer surge.

Lynch said while there are beds available, staffing is the big issue.

Unlike the other surges, the state hasn’t been providing extra healthcare workers to counties in need. In turn, hospitals like Community Medical Centers and St. Agnes feeling the impact.

“Those facilities are at a very critical crisis stage,” said Lynch.

The county has put in a request to the state for 110 healthcare workers.

“They are making an immediate request for those hospitals and we are waiting to see what that time frame is, but it could be in the next 48 hours,” said Lynch.

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