COVID-19 Update: Fresno Councilmember Says Businesses Should Remain Closed

Fresno County’s COVID-19 cases increased by 17 Wednesday, April 29, bringing the total amount of cases to 538.

According to the Fresno County Department of Public Health, 238 of the cases were community spread or originated from an unknown source, 44 were travel related, 206 were spread by close contact and 50 are still under investigation.

The amount of cases in Clovis remains unchanged at 38. The City of Fresno has 285 cases, Sanger has 39, and Reedley, Selma, Parlier and Mendota all had at least 20 cases.

Seven people have died as a result of the disease in Fresno County.

The number of recoveries continues to climb, as health officials reported that more than 200 people have recovered from the disease. There are currently 329 active cases.

Pleas from local businesses to reopen have sparked heated debate amongst the Fresno City Council.

On April 29, Fresno Councilmember Nelson Esparza said the city should uphold its stay-at-home order and keep non-essential businesses closed through the end of May.

“If you follow the number of confirmed cases in Fresno County and the San Joaquin Valley at large, it’s very clear that we’re at a point where we can’t even confirm that we have hit the peak number of infections or casualties yet,” Esparza said. “It’s a very dangerous proposition to be discussing a reopening in May when we don’t even know if we’re on the other side of this thing yet.”

Councilmembers Mike Karbassi and Garry Bredefeld took the opposite stance earlier in the week.

On April 27, Karbassi said non-essential businesses should be allowed to slowly open while still following social distancing guidelines, starting May 7. Bredefeld held a press conference the next day, where he called Fresno’s stay-at-home order authoritarian and demanded that non-essential businesses open immediately, as long as they followed health guidelines.

But whether businesses begin to reopen May 7 or later, county interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra said business owners that want to reopen should think about how they will implement social distancing guidelines and health protections.

He recommends business owners stock up on personal protective equipment, stagger employee shifts, change the physical layout of their workspace to ensure social distancing, consider which employees are most at risk and eliminate hazards, which can include quarantining employees who show signs of respiratory illness.

“As we move forward into the future, that is going to be the expectation for every single business that comes back online, whenever that is,” Vohra said.

He continued, “We know more businesses will come online, but we don’t really want that to translate into a huge peak in our case counts, because if we do get a wave of new cases as more and more businesses come online, that would really stress our healthcare capacity and would be a real step backwards in terms of all the ground we have gained.”

Fresno’s stay-at-home order is set to expire May 6.

Ron Camacho was born and raised in Clovis. He attended Clovis High School and graduated from CSU Fresno in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications and Journalism. Before joining the Roundup, Ron wrote for Pollstar Magazine and the Sanger Herald. He has a deep appreciation for the arts and is a lover of music, cinema and storytelling. When he’s not busy looking for his next story, Ron enjoys taking weekend expeditions to the beach or mountains to practice landscape photography.