Fresno County passes 200K COVID cases since pandemic’s start, as hospitals remain stressed

Tim Sheehan/The Fresno Bee
·3 min read

Fresno County has recorded nearly 53,000 new cases of COVID-19 among its residents just within the first month of 2022 as the omicron variant of the coronavirus rampages across the U.S.

With more than 3,000 new laboratory-confirmed infections reported on Friday, and almost 17,400 this week, Fresno County has now cracked the milestone of 200,000 cases since the coronavirus pandemic first touched the region less than two years ago, in early March 2020.

That’s roughly a fifth of Fresno County’s population.

The past two weeks have represented high points in a surge that began just after Christmas. Weekly cases increased at a seemingly exponential pace to exceed even the highest points of the deadly wave of cases experienced in December 2020 and January 2021 – almost 18,000 new infections last week among Fresno County residents, followed by 17,399 this week through Friday.

By comparison, it took Fresno County five months to register its first 17,000 cases between March and August 2020. After the first confirmed local COVID-19 infection in early March 2020, it took about 10 months to reach 50,000 cases – fewer than what’s been reported in just the past month.

The January 2022 surge is not only exceeding what Fresno County experienced last winter in terms of the sheer number of new coronavirus infections, it’s also rivaling the burden that the virus is putting on hospitals through the number of cases that require admission for inpatient care.

As of Thursday, 590 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 were being treated in hospitals – the largest volume of patients in more than a year in Fresno County. Of those hospitalized, 94 were sick enough to warrant treatment in intensive-care units – more ICU patients than any point since early February 2021.

The omicron surge, however, has not been as deadly as previous coronavirus variants. Through Friday, health officials in Fresno County had reported 78 fatalities attributed to COVID-19 this month – far fewer than the monthly peak of 462 deaths in January 2021, and lower than the worst of the delta variant surge last fall which topped out at 174 deaths in October 2021.

This week in the central San Joaquin Valley through Friday morning, more than 34,500 new COVID-19 cases were reported across Fresno, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced and Tulare counties, pushing the region’s total infections to date to 437,219 since the first cases were confirmed in March 2020.

Of those, nearly 5,200 patients have died from the virus and the respiratory disease it cases.

County by county

County-by-county updates in the Valley include:

Fresno County: 3,002 new confirmed infections reported Friday, 17,399 this week, 202,691 to date – or one out of every five of the county’s 1.03 million residents. Health officials also reported five additional deaths on Friday, 28 this week, and 2,457 to date.

Kings County: 587 new cases reported Friday, 4,504 this week, 45,725 to date; two additional deaths this week, 398 to date.

Madera County: 350 new cases reported Friday, 2,321 this week, 32,176 to date; three additional deaths this week, 339 to date.

Mariposa County: 31 new cases reported Friday, 261 this week, 2,606 to date; no additional deaths this week, 19 to date.

Merced County: 618 new cases reported Friday, 3,640 this week, 63,033 to date; two additional deaths reported Friday, nine this week, 742 to date.

Tulare County: 695 new cases reported Friday, 7,466 this week, 92,064 to date; five additional deaths reported Friday, 29 this week, 1,236 to date.

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