Sadly the last indicator of the most recent COVID-19 surge — deaths — has happened in Tulare County has happened. And the forecast is for the worst — much worse — to come.

The state reported 10 more deaths in Tulare County in the last week, bringing its total of deaths due to COVID-19 in the county to 866. There had been no new deaths reported for a while since the latest surge has been happening, but the state reported the last indicator of how bad the latest surge will be, the number of deaths that will occur, began this past week with the reporting of 10 new deaths.

Sierra View Medical Center has also reported two more deaths in the last week. As of Thursday Sierra View reported it has had 172 deaths due to COVID-19.

And the forecast is grim. The state is forecasting Tulare County to have 1,019 deaths by September 25.

Tulare County's R number which measures the spread of the virus has remained about the same at 1.15, keeping it in the “likely increasing category.” That means the rate of spread of the virus is expected to increase at a higher rate in the future than its current rate of increase.

Tulare County Health and Human Services also reported a huge increase in one day of active cases on Thursday in the county. The health department reported there are now 2,449 active cases in Tulare County, an increase of 217 over the previous day.

The health department also reported a huge increase in the number of overall cases in just one day. The health department reported on Thursday since March 11, 2020 there have been 53,919 cases in Tulare County. That's an increase of 328 over the previous day.

As of Wednesday the health department reported there were 50,494 Tulare County residents who had recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

The case rate continues to rise in Tulare County. As of Wednesday the county health department reported Tulare County's case rate was 30.9 per 100,000 over a 7-day period. On Thursday, the state reported that case rate increased to 33.3 per 100,000.

Tulare County's positive test rate also continues to increase. As of Wednesday the county health department reported Tulare County's positive test rate was 9.8 percent. The state reported that positive test rate had risen to 10.5 percent.

As of Wednesday the county health department reported there were 160 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Tulare County and another four patients in the county suspected of having COVID-19.

Those figures will continue to fluctuate as later on Wednesday, Sierra View Medical Center reported it had 21 COVID-19 patients and seven patients suspected of having COVID-19.

The Tule River Tribe also reported on Wednesday the impact COVID-19 is having on the Tule River Reservation. The Tribe posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday it has had eight new cases in the Tribal community over the last week.

The Tribe also stated as of Wednesday it had more than 20 people in quarantine, “with more coming in each day.

“All of these patients can be traced back to schools reopening. Children and young adults are becoming a higher percentage of positive cases. We are very concered about transmission between children, young adults and Elders, who are most at risk for a severe case of COVID-19.”

The Tribe went onto state “it is vitally important that Elders in households with school-aged children get vaccinated.”

Vaccines are available to anyone 12 and older at the Tule River Indian Health Center. The Pfizer vaccine available at the center has been fully approved for ages 16 and older and emergency use authorization was previously granted for ages 12 and older. Appointments can be made by calling 784-2316.

On Monday the county health department reported the vaccination rate in Tulare County was just 39 percent of those who were eligible.

Democrats in the State Legislature are considering legislation that would require people to prove they are fully vaccinated before entering places such as restaurants, bars, theaters, gyms, hotels and stadiums.

The Democrats are still undecided if they want to try to pass the legislation before the session ends on September 10 or wait until January. If passed the vaccine requirement would take effect immediately and how it would be enforced would have to be decided by November 1.

The vaccine standard would be one of the strictest statewide vaccination requirements in the nation. The state has already enacted a requirement in which all those attending indoor events with more than 1,000 people need to show proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test. That requirement would go into effect September 20.

If enacted the vaccine requirement could possibly impact such events as high school football games in which school districts would possibly have to figure out a way for fans to provide proof of vaccination before they attend games.

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