It was an extremely busy day for county employees, nurses and volunteers who staffed the Porterville College (PC) Point of Distribution (POD) site on Wednesday, where hundreds of people received their second dose of Moderna, one of the COVID-19 vaccines.
With nearly 800 doses planned to be distributed on Wednesday, POD staff were over half way through by early afternoon. Even though individuals receiving their vaccine needed to schedule an appointment first, the waiting line was quite line at the check-in station.
After pulling into the POD off of Main Street, visitors were stopped at a check-in station to confirm their appointment time before pulling forward to a second check-in station where staff would check for any paperwork that may be needed. After all paperwork was checked, an education station was the next stop and staff would inform each person about Moderna before sending them to have their temperature checked. After the temperature check, second dose vaccines were distributed.
“The vaccines were not being given to people and that was my biggest concern,” said Arlina Gillett, who contacted Tulare County Supervisor Dennis Townsend to see how she could get involved and volunteer at the POD. “Today, everything has gone very smoothly. No hitches whatsoever.”
Gillett said that she started inquiring about volunteering at the POD with Dr. Gaurang Pandya, who urged Gillett to round up anyone interested in volunteering and to the call the county for more direction.
“Dr. Pandya said let's get some volunteers going,” said Gillett. “There weren't that many vaccine stations going on. We weren't getting the vaccines out and I was beginning to worry. My niece had COVID and I asked [Townsend] what is going on? I was ready to volunteer, the Porterville Rotary Club, Lions Club and some of my friends said that they would do it.”
Townsend said Gillett could not have brought the issue up to him at a more perfect time, as the county was just beginning to think about how they would organize volunteers for each POD.
“Actually, Arlina called me and was asking about [volunteering],” said Townsend. “She said it looks like we were going to need some help and it was perfect timing. I had made a call the same day to Tim Lutz, our Health and Human Services Director, and said that I had a constituent and friend asking about volunteering with the Rotary Club and other service organizations that would like to help.
“I passed the word on and Lutz said it was perfect timing because they had just brought it up and were wondering how they would be able to do it. I asked if he had a way to contact, and he said they were setting up a website. The timing was so perfect, but it was really [Gillett]'s call to get something going, and we were ready and willing.”
The interest in volunteering was far beyond what the county expected. So many people volunteered that the county had to figure out how they were going to use all of the help.
“We had to figure out how we would be able to use the volunteers,” said Townsend. “There is so much data entry and just the logistics of it, and basically that is what we are using a lot of the volunteers for.”
Now that the vaccines are rolling into Tulare County, Townsend said that the Board of Supervisors is pushing for a focus on getting the vaccine to farmworkers.
“The county has been very active with the state in advocating to get more of the vaccine doses,” said Townsend. “That is what our main issue is. I was on a call with the Governors office last week with seven other San Joaquin Valley representatives talking about this issue.
“In the first wave of doses that came out, they were looking at healthcare workers, which is fine, but we are at a little bit of a drought for healthcare workers here in the San Joaquin Valley, so our allocation was a lot lower than other counties. Because of that we are pushing for farmworkers who have never stopped working this whole time. The state has determined that they are essential workers and Latinos are about 75 percent of who is getting COVID. It is very heavily impacting the Latino community.
“We are imploring the Governors office to make up for the lack of doses we got the first time around as they are starting to roll out their new system. We are saying that in the allocation formula, they need to remember the San Joaquin Valley counties, and these Central Valley counties especially. We are really trying and it looks like we are making a little bit of headway. They did move farmworkers up a little bit, so hopefully when the state gets it's system worked out, it will be a little smoother with more opportunities to get the vaccine, not only at county POD's but also through the healthcare networks.”
BY THE NUMBERS
The number of active cases increased by 58 on Wednesday from Tuesday's report. There are now 1,514 people in Tulare County who currently have active cases of COVID-19.
There was also another huge increase of recoveries. The number of recoveries increased by 219 over Tuesday's report. There are now 45,000 people who have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.
The overall increase in cases increased by 286 according to Wednesday's report. Since March 11 there has been a total of 47,220 cases of COVID-19 in Tulare County.
The county health department reported nine more deaths over Tuesday's report. There are now 706 people in Tulare County who have died due to COVID-19. The health department has data on 691 deaths of which 527 were ages 65 and older, 149 were ages 41-64 and 14 were ages 26-40. One child in Tulare County has died due to complications with COVID-19.
Since March 11 there have been 9,535 cases in the Porterville area, 43 cases in foothill-mountain communities, 145 cases in Springville, 686 cases in Terra Bella, 610 cases in Strathmore, 1,758 cases in Lindsay, 8,381 cases in Tulare, 4,023 cases in Dinuba, 313 cases in Richgrove, 757 cases in Pixley, 353 cases in Tipton, 1,408 cases in Earlimart, 1,133 cases in Farmersville, 1,010 cases in Exeter, 51 cases in Three Rivers, 877 cases in Woodlake, 734 cases in Cutler, 1,395 cases in Orosi, 87 cases in Goshen, 235 cases in Traver, 57 cases in the Reedley area, 21 cases in Orange Cove and 484 cases in Ivanhoe.
In Visalia there have been 5,148 cases in one region, 3,408 cases in another region and 4,070 cases in a third region.
There have been 7,018 cases ages 0-17, 7,340 cases ages 18-25, 13,287 cases ages 26-40, 14,559 cases ages 41-64 and 4,900 cases ages 65 and older.
There have been 26,038 cases who have been Hispanic, 6,495 have been Caucasian, 932 have been Asian, 327 have been African American, 301 have been Native American, 1,568 have been multi-race and 11,559 are unknown.
There are 299 people in Tulare County under self-quarantine being monitored by public health officials.