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Health Officials In The Valley Monitor At-Risk Individuals To Prevent Spread Of COVID-19

Kings County Public Health Department

Only two COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the San Joaquin Valley: one each in Madera and Fresno counties. Both are related to travel on Princess Cruises. To prevent further spread, public health departments are monitoring at-risk folks daily.  

Not every county publishes the number of monitored individuals, but from those that do in the San Joaquin Valley,  about 40 individuals have been or are being monitored. About ten of those individuals were cleared after not presenting symptoms following two weeks of isolation.

“We’re doing what’s called active monitoring, where we check in with patients every day, either by phone or in person to see how they’re doing,” said Dr. Simon Paul, an officer with the Madera County Public Health Department.

Right now, the county is hoping to contain the disease by watching at-risk patients. That includes those who have recently traveled to a high-risk location, or had contact with those who have traveled to a high-risk location. If a case is confirmed, Paul says the county will also monitor anyone with whom the patient has had recent contact.

Neither case in Madera or Fresno was transmitted from within the community, and the risk of getting the virus from someone in the San Joaquin Valley is currently very low. 

However, Mariposa County Health Director Dr. Eric Sergienko says things could change quickly even if just a few new cases are confirmed.

“We would probably run out of capacity to do really good contact tracing after about 3 or 4 cases,” said Sergienko. 

Compared to other health departments in the state, the branch Sergienko supervises is small. So while it's focusing on containment, Sergienko says, the county is also sharing different preparation messages every week. This week, it's raising awareness about high-risk individuals like the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems. Last week the focus was on preparing businesses for an outbreak. 

In the meantime, health officials across the San Joaquin Valley say that instead of wiping out the toilet paper aisle, preventative measures like washing hands and disinfecting surfaces are the best ways to protect oneself.


Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.
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