Call it the omicron surge or the latest wave or whatever you want to call, but the new year has begun with another increase in COVID cases in Tulare County and California.

The spike in cases that hit the rest of the nation has now reached the state. And while the increase in cases in Tulare County isn't nearly as significant as the rest of the state yet that has been the pattern in the past with more rural areas being hit later than more urban areas.

And there's stilla significant increase in cases in Tulare County. And with the holidays just ending if the pattern continues as it has after past holiday periods, cases will continue to rise.

As of Monday, though, Tulare County's case rate was still far lower than the rest of the state's. The county had a case rate of 12 per 100,000 on Monday, which still places the county at the next highest infectious level as determined by the Centers for Disease Control, substantial.

The state's case rate as of Monday was 46 per 100,000, placing it well above the number to be considered in the highest rate, high, as measured by the CDC.

Tulare County's positive test rate is also half of the rest of the state's, eight percent as opposed to 15.9 percent for the state. Still, Tulare County's positive test rate has increased by 3.9 percent over the last week.

There has also been a slight increase in the number of hospitalizations due to COVID in Tulare County. On Monday, the state reported the county had 58 hospitalizations due to COVID.

As of Monday the available number of ICU beds available in the county continued to remain adequate at 15 the state reported on Monday.

Sierra View Medical Center reported on Monday it has had a large increase of COVID patients. Sierra View reported on Monday it had 17 COVID patients and one patient suspected of having COVID. The number of available ICU beds at Sierra View, though, remained in relatively good shape as it reported on Monday four of its 10 ICU beds were in use.

There has been a significant increase in the total amount of positive in-house COVID-19 patients,” Sierra View posted on its Facebook page. “Please be cautious with any onset of the slightest symptoms and be sure to remember that it is important to be vigilant in practicing good hand hygiene and doing what you can to protect you and others from any virus, including COVID-19 at this time.”

Omicron, which has driven the latest surge, is also causing more breakthrough cases with those who are fully vaccinated, but haven't had a booster shot. But those who are fully vaccinated, even without a booster shot, are still far less likely to be hospitalized as opposed to those who are unvaccinated.

In its latest data, the state reported the unvaccinated were 5.2 times more likely to be infected with COVID than the fully vaccinated, but 14.2 times more likely to be hospitalized than the fully vaccinated.

There has also been a significant increase in Tulare County's R number, which measures the rate of spread of the virus. The county's R number had fallen to a much lower level, placing it well within the “likely decreasing” category, meaning the rate of spread of the virus was expected to increase at a lower level than its current rate of increase.

But now the county is back in the “likely increasing” category, meaning the rate of spread of the virus is expected to increase at a higher level than its current rate of increase.

Tulare County's R number has risen back above 1 at 1.12. That number measures the average number of people who would be infected by one infected person.

But the county's R number is still significantly lower than most of the rest of the state, which is in the “likely increasing rapidly” category. Many counties have an R number above 2, meaning one infected person would infect two other people on average.

There has also been a significant increase in the number of active cases in Tulare County. As of Monday there was 1,403 active cases in the county.

Since March 11, 2020 there has been 72,345 cases in Tulare County. Nearly 15 percent of Tulare County residents have tested positive for COVID.

As of Monday the state reported Tulare County has had 1,160 deaths due to COVID. In its last report it offered on Wednesday, Tulare County Health and Human Services reported the county had 1,151 deaths. Sierra View has had 254 deaths due to COVID.

The effort to encourage more residents to become vaccinated continues. Another vaccine roundup is being offered at the community vaccine clinic operated by Sierra View and Imperial Ambulance on the corner of Pearson and Morton from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, January 6-8.

All those ages 12 and older receiving a first, second and third booster dose of a vaccine will receive a $100 gift card to a Porterville business. Those attending the vaccine roundup should arrive no later than 5 p.m.

The Tule River Tribe has also been offering incentive checks to Tribal members to be vaccinated.

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