One down. One to go.

Tulare County has now met one of the two metrics for it to move from the most restrictive category — purple — to the next least restrictive category — red. That was the report presented by Tulare County Health and Human Services Director Tim Lutz during his weekly presentation on the status of COVID-19 in the county at the Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.

Lutz reported Tulare County's positive test rate is now at 7.7 percent, which is below the 8 percent threshold required to move into the red category. But Tulare County remains stagnant as far as the other metric is concerned as far as moving into the red category.

Lutz reported Tulare County's rate of cases per 100,000 residents over the last 7 days was at 11.4 percent. That number has remained at about that level for the past week.

For Tulare County to move into the red category that number needs to come down to 7 per 100,000. The state updates the metrics every Tuesday.

On the first Tuesday when Tulare County meets the standard for positive testing and cases per 100,000 residents, it must maintain that standard for two weeks. The county would then be able to move into the red category.

That would mean restaurants could open indoors at 25 percent capacity, churches could also open indoors at 25 percent capacity, movie theaters could open on a limited basis and schools could open for all of their students.

Overall the trends remained positive for Tulare County, Lutz said, describing what's happening as “continued positive progress.”

“Very positive to see our positive testing dip below that 8 percent threshold,” Lutz said. Lutz said the county fell below 8 percent for the first time since June.

The number of total COVID-19 cases since March 11 in Tulare County is now at 15,782, an increase of 95 over what was reported on Monday. Lutz reported the number of cases has increased by 421 in the last week.

So the percentage of increase continues to drop as cases increased by 2.7 percent over the last week. “Very nice to see the continued decline in our cases,” Lutz said.

And the number of active cases dropped again in Tulare County. There are now 482 people in Tulare County who have COVID-19, a decline of 40 from the previous day.

The number of recoveries continued to increase and increased considerable on Tuesday by 149 over the previous day. There are now 15,043 people in Tulare County who have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

Lutz did report one more death on Tuesday, bringing the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Tulare County to 257. There have been four deaths in Tulare County in the last week, which is below the rate of 10 to 15 deaths per week the county had been experiencing. The state model now projects Tulare County to have 264 deaths by October 22.

As far as Tulare County's R number, that number continues to remain steady at .84. That indicates the rate of increase of cases is “likely decreasing,” meaning the rate of increase is expected to be lower than the current rate. The number .84 represents the average number of people one infected person would infect.

Lutz also reported the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Tulare County was at 37.

Lutz, though, continued to stress for the county to continue in its positive direction, people needed to continue to wear masks and to avoid large gatherings.

The state has been expected to adjust its guidance on large gatherings, but Lutz said there remains confusion concerning that matter.

He said the state is looking at possibly adjusting guidance on large gatherings for certain sectors to allow such sectors as theme parks to begin to open. But he added about the guidance, “it's not clear to us at this point.”

As far as schools, Lutz reported 14 schools in the county have now applied for waivers to provide in-person instruction for grades K-6. St. Anne's and Zion Lutheran Schools have begun in-person instruction for grades K-6 after having their waivers approved.

On Tuesday, Hope and Saucelito Schools also had their waivers approved to open for grades K-6. Saucelito stated it would reopen on October 5.

It was reported at the meeting the Burton School District has inquired about applying for a waiver but had yet to do so as of Tuesday.

BY THE NUMBERS

As of Monday, Sierra View Medical Center had nine COVID-19 hospitalizations and 11 patients suspected of having COVID-19. Sierra View has had 43 deaths due to COVID-19.

Sierra View reported four of its 10 ICU beds were in use and four of its 19 ventilators were in use. Sierra View reported it now has four employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and 44 employees who have recovered. Sierra View has had a total of 328 positive tests.

As of Monday, Visalia's Kaweah Delta Hospital reported it had 28 COVID-19 hospitalizations of which five were in ICU.

Since March 11 there have been 2,512 cases in Porterville, 160 cases in Terra Bella, 216 cases in Strathmore, 652 cases in Lindsay, 43 cases in foothill-mountain communities, 136 cases in Richgrove, 28 cases in Alpaugh, 282 cases in Pixley, 88 cases in Tipton, 643 cases in Earlimart, 2,522 cases in Tulare, 1,761 cases in Dinuba, 471 cases in Farmersville, 308 cases in Exeter, 275 cases in Woodlake, 40 cases in Goshen, 81 cases in Traver, 311 cases in Cutler, 566 cases in Orosi, 14 cases in the Reedley area and 11 cases in Orange Cove.

In Visalia there have been 1,992 cases in one region, 1,092 cases in another region and 1,282 cases in a third region.

As of Tuesday of 256 deaths reported, the health department reported 119 of the deaths were related to nursing homes and 137 of the deaths were not related to nursing homes. The health department reported four of the deaths were under the age of 41, 52 deaths were ages 41-64 and 200 deaths were ages 65 and older.

There have been 68 cases reported as travel-related, 5,245 cases due to person-to-person contact and 10,469 cases are under investigation.

There have been 2,206 cases ages 0-17, 2,509 cases ages 18-25, 4,555 cases ages 26-40, 4,904 cases ages 41-64 and 1,599 cases ages 65 and older.

There have been 8,968 cases who have been Hispanic, 1,497 have been Caucasian, 277 have been Asian, 69 have been African American, 47 have been Native American, 295 have been multi-race and 4,629 are unknown.

There are 345 people in Tulare County who are under self-quarantine and being monitored by public health officials.

With a population of about 470,000 people, Tulare County has had an overall rate of more than 3.3 cases percent.

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