Fresno County Responds to Surge in COVID-19 Cases

Warning signs are posted at city and community parks reminding residents to practice safe hygiene after playground usage. (Clovis Roundup Photo)

The number of COVID-19 cases in Fresno County surged to more than 50 cases since the last issue of the Clovis Roundup.

The Fresno County Department of Public Health reported 53 cases of COVID-19 as of March 30, for an increase of 51 cases over the last two weeks.

Eight of the cases were community-spread, nine were transmitted person-to-person, 17 are travel-related and 19 were under investigation at press time.

The FCDPH has monitored 758 individuals for the contagious disease since the outbreak began at the beginning of March. A total of 325 COVID-19 tests have been carried out in Fresno County, 165 of which were conducted by the FCDPH. As of March 27, 87 test results were still pending.

Fresno’s neighboring counties are seeing an increase in cases as well. Tulare County reported 45 cases and one death, Madera County reported 21 cases and one death, Merced County reported 10 cases and Kings County reported 3 cases.

There were no confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Fresno County at press time.

The crisis presented local, state and national governments with a race against time to enact safety measures that would, hopefully, prevent the deaths of potentially millions.

The Roundup has compiled a list of COVID-19 related updates on government orders and tests. They are presented below in chronological order.

Shelter In Place Order

The City of Fresno declared a “shelter in place” order Wednesday, March 18.

The order allowed residents to leave their homes to perform essential functions, such as to go grocery shopping, work, attend doctor appointments and pick up prescriptions. The order also instructs Fresno residents to practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from others when outside of the home.

The City of Fresno and health officials hope the order will “flatten the curve,” or avoid a spike in cases that would overwhelm hospitals.

Clovis initially decided not to follow suit.

But after California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered a statewide shelter in place order March 20, and after a lengthy Clovis City Council discussion, the city decided to fall in line with the governor’s order to shelter in place until further notice.

The city outlined 11 types of businesses that were deemed essential, which includes gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies and childcare. The full list of essential businesses can be found at

Trump Declares Major Disaster Declaration for California

At Newsom’s request, President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration for California on March 21.

The declaration provides additional aid to the state in the form of unemployment assistance and disaster legal services for those who have suffered business losses caused by the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, California has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” Newsom said in a letter to Trump. “Besides California being home to nearly 40 million people, which itself poses significant logistical issues few other states face, California partnered with the federal government in several extremely complex and challenging repatriation missions, which strained California’s resources and impacted California’s healthcare.”

The assistance includes mass care and emergency assistance, crisis counseling, disaster case management, disaster unemployment assistance, disaster legal services and Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance.

First Community-Transmitted Cases Confirmed

The FCDPH reported its first confirmed community-transmitted cases March 27.

The FCPHD said in a statement, “These new identified cases indicate that there is evidence of community-spread in Fresno County, but the extent is still not clear. Our health care facilities and community medical providers are actively planning and preparing for patients who have symptoms and complications of COVID-19, but every one of our county residents needs to play a part in reducing the risk of transmission.”

Businesses Ordered to Screen Employees

On March 28, the FCDPH ordered businesses to screen employees for “febrile respiratory illness” on a daily basis.

Febrile Respiratory illness is defined as a “new or worsening episode of either cough or shortness of breath, presenting with fever (temperature 100.4 degrees or higher) or chills in the past 24 hours,” according to the U.S. Library of Medicine.

The screening requires employees to fill out a daily checklist, which contains questions about whether they are experiencing a fever, coughing, sore throat or runny nose. The checklist also asks employees if they have recently been in close with a suspected or known COVID-19 patient.

Businesses are required to report employees with febrile respiratory illness to the FCDPH the same day they are evaluated. Employees who show symptoms must be excluded from work for seven days from the day they were screened and are required to notify all close contacts to quarantine themselves for 14 days from the last time they were in contact.

Employees who report repertory illness symptoms are required to isolate themselves for seven days from the time of screening.

The order also requires medical providers to report all patients with febrile respiratory illness to the public health branch of the Health and Human Services Agency on a daily basis.

When reporting febrile respiratory illness cases, medical providers must include information such as demographics, age, residential address and whether COVID-19 testing was conducted.

Patients who show symptoms will be directed to self-quarantine for seven days after the onset of symptoms or three days after their fever subsides.

Failure to obey a doctor’s order to self-quarantine is now considered a misdemeanor, according to the FCDPH order.

The order applies to all of Fresno County, including Clovis.