Tulare County, state see highest COVID levels yet

Omicron surge continues to set pandemic records in Tulare County and statewide

TULARE COUNTY – At the Jan. 25 Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting, Public Health Officer Karen Elliott briefed the board on the current COVID situation for the first time in 2022.

“Unfortunately what we’re seeing is very rapid activity of COVID,” Elliot said, pointing out that confirmed cases were up 8,400 on the week, almost 10% of total confirmed cases in the county since the start of the pandemic. “We do see that what we’ve been hearing in terms of how rapid Omicron has taken over, spread and become very contagious has really impacted Tulare County.”

Elliott said Tulare County’s case rate was at 183.5 per 100,000 people. She also said California as a whole was at 254.6 per 100,000, the largest the county and state have seen since the onset of the pandemic. As of Jan. 27, Tulare County’s seven-day positivity rate was 31.1%. The state overall was at 21.2%.

Elliott told the board hospitalizations and deaths continue to increase.

“Our COVID-positive hospitalizations have doubled since the week of Jan. 10,” Elliott said. “We’re also seeing a lot of healthcare workers that are becoming affected and sick with COVID at alarming rates…both Kaweah and Sierra View have state resources that are helping out.”

Elliott said local hospitals are seeing some shorter stays and less need for intensive care overall, but a tidal wave of COVID-positives does hinder the hospital’s ability to provide any other kind of care.

Tulare County skilled-nursing facilities have seen three facilities in the area that have all had more than eight residents test positive recently, however Elliott said the need to transfer them to the hospital has “not been an issue,” with only one person recently needing to be transferred from a skilled-nursing facility to a hospital because of COVID.

New year, not new situation for schools as both students and staff continue to get ravaged by COVID.

“We’ve seen just in a week student cases increase by 40% and staff cases increase by 36%,” Elliott said.

Instead of doing individual contact tracing, schools now have the option to do a group trace, sending a blanket notification to students who are affected in the cohort. Tulare County schools continue to provide independent study options for those who need to be home for isolation or quarantine.

Elliott said most schools in the county are following different plans on how to deal with the massive influx of absences at the student and staff level.

“At this point, no one has chosen to go virtual, they are trying to ride it out, shift and pivot where they can so that all students stay in the classroom if they are able to attend,” Elliott said.

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