It’s simple: Stay at home when sick

The Fresno County Department of Public Health and the Madera County Department of Public Health are reminding residents of the importance to stay home when sick.


If residents are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or they have been in contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19 or had symptoms of COVID-19, please rest at home. If individuals are waiting for test results, they should stay home and away from others to avoid exposing other family members, friends, co-workers, or classmates.


Symptoms of COVID-19 include: Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

According to Sara Bosse, Madera County Public Health Director, “Bottom line — we expect a lot more cases in upcoming weeks and testing capacity will likely be overwhelmed. If you have symptoms, stay home, get tested if you can, and assume you are positive while you wait for the results.”


The COVID-19 and Omicron surge continues to impact hospitals across the Central Valley. Fresno and Madera hospitals are over-capacity and space is limited.


“Please avoid the use of an ambulance and the hospital emergency room,” says Dan Lynch, EMS Director. “We are encouraging that individuals seek care at their private physician office, urgent cares, clinics, or use telehealth through their insurance carrier for all non-emergency health services.”


The FCDPH and MCDPH do not recommend that individuals go to the emergency room for COVID-19 testing. If individuals think they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or if they develop symptoms, it is recommended that they call their medical provider, local clinic, or OptumServe testing site to get a COVID-19 test.


To find a local COVID-19 testing site, visitor www.maderacounty.com/covid19testing for Madera County residents.


Masks mandate extended


Masks are required for all individuals in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status through Feb. 15.


The COVID-19 vaccines remain effective in preventing serious disease, hospitalization, and death from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Unvaccinated persons are more likely to get infected and spread the virus which is transmitted through the air and concentrates indoors.


To ensure that residents collectively protect the health and well-being of all Californians; keep schools open for in-person instruction; and allow California’s economy to remain open and thrive, the California Department of Public Health is requiring masks to be worn in all indoor public settings, irrespective of vaccine status, until Feb. 15. This requirement will be updated as CDPH continues to assess conditions on an ongoing basis.


This measure brings an added layer of mitigation as the Omicron variant, a Variant of Concern as labeled by the World Health Organization, continues to increase in prevalence across California, the United States, and the world and spreads much more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Delta variant.


Over the last two weeks, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by more than sixfold and hospitalizations have doubled. While the percentage of Californians fully vaccinated and boosted continues to increase, we continue to have areas of the state where vaccine coverage is low, putting individuals and communities at greater risk for COVID-19. Given the current hospital census, which is over capacity, the surge in cases and hospitalizations has materially impacted California’s health care delivery system within many regions of the state. Staffing levels are also increasingly impacted by COVID-19 transmission in many critical sectors.


Implementing a universal masking requirement not only has proven to decrease the rate of infections but is able to slow community transmission. A series of cross-sectional surveys in the U.S. suggested that a 10 percent increase in self-reported mask wearing tripled the likelihood of slowing community transmission.


The masking requirement in California schools has allowed schools top remain open when compared to other parts of the country. California accounts for roughly 12 percent of all U.S. students, but only 1 percent of COVID-19 related school closures. Nationally during the Delta surge in July and August 2021, jurisdictions without mask requirements in schools experienced larger increases in pediatric case rates, and school outbreaks were 3.5 times more likely in areas without school mask requirements.


In workplaces, employers are subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) or in some workplaces the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) Standard and should consult those regulations for additional applicable requirements.


Exemptions to masks requirements


The following individuals are exempt from wearing masks at all times:


• Persons younger than two years old. Very young children must not wear a mask because of the risk of suffocation.


• Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a mask. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a mask could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance.


• Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.


• Persons for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.