County COVID cases, hospitalizations rise slightly

Tulare County cases have tripled, hospitalizations doubled in May compared to extremely low rates to end April

TULARE COUNTY – COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise across the nation, but far from the pandemic peaks in January.

In the last two weeks, COVID-19 hospitalizations are up 30% nationwide with 47 states reporting an increase, according to the Centers for Disease Control. California’s 44% increase was less than 13 states and Washington, D.C. but more than 33 others. The seven-day average case rate for California was 23.4 per 100,000 on May 17, the highest since Feb. 16, 2022,according to the California Department of Public Health. New cases have tripled and hospitalizations have doubled in Tulare County this month but there are only 26 confirmed COVID patients in local hospitals, none of which are in the ICU or on ventilators, according to the Tulare County’s Health and Human Services Agency.

As of May 19, less than 10% of U.S. counties were considered to have a high level of community transmission, up by about 5%, and about 15% a medium level of transmission, less than a percent change over the last week. Tulare County was considered to have low transmissibility. Most zip codes in the county had less than 11 cases, the minimum number required to report out a number to protect the privacy of COVID-19 patients. There were zero deaths statewide on May 12 and just one as of May 17, the latest numbers available from the state and the lowest death tolls since the pandemic began.

Cases among unvaccinated individuals have been slowly rising statewide since mid-March. Three quarters of Californians ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated and another 8.9% have received at least one shot of the vaccine. In Tulare County, 57.2% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated and 6.75% are partially vaccinated, leaving more than one-third of the county (36.1%) unprotected from the virus. Just 17% of those ages 5-11 years old have received the initial doses and the same group makes up nearly 17% of all cases in the county. 

The day before reporting its latest numbers, the CDC expanded eligibility of the vaccine booster to everyone 5 years of age and older. The CDC now recommends children 5-11 years old receive a booster shot five months after completing their initial two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The CDC also recommends a second booster shot, or four doses total, for anyone over 50 and those 12 and older who are immunocompromised. 

Vaccination with a primary series among this age group has lagged behind other age groups leaving them vulnerable to serious illness,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. “With over 18 million doses administered in this age group, we know that these vaccines are safe, and we must continue to increase the number of children who are protected. I encourage parents to keep their children up to date with CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine recommendations.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 1,500 people have died from the virus and almost 105,000 people have recovered. Of the county’s more than 107,000 cases, 27% have been in Visalia, 19% in Porterville and 16% in Tulare. Twelve percent were ages 26-40, 12.8% were ages 41 to 64 and about 6.5% were ages 18 to 25.

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