As the region braces for an expanded stay-at-home order, there was one bit of good news for Tulare County on Friday.

Tulare County Health and Human Services reported on Friday the number of active cases went down for the first time in quite a while, dropping by 60 from the previous day. There are now 2,081 people in Tulare County who have COVID-19.

But as far as the expanded stay-at-home order the region is bracing for and Tulare County eventually moving out of the state's most restrictive tier, purple, the outlook remains pretty much the same.

Tulare County's unofficial, preliminary case rate continues to rise and is now up to 35.3 per 100,000 over a 7-day period, an increase of 2.3 over the previous day.

The state last updated Tulare County's official rate on Tuesday which stood at 21.5 per 100,000, but that number is expected to rise based on the county's unofficial number. Tulare County needs to reduce its number to 7 cases per 100,000 residents to move into the next least restrictive tier, the red tier.

Tulare County's overall positive test rate is below the 8 percent threshold for the red tier at 7.4 percent. The county's equity metric positive test rate for its most disadvantaged areas is in the purple tier.

Once Tulare County meets all the standards it must maintain those numbers for two weeks to move into the red tier. When that happens, restaurants can open indoors at 25 percent capacity, churches can open indoors at 25 percent capacity, movie theaters can open on a limited basis and schools can reopen to al students.

But before any of that happens the stay-at-home order for the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare County is expected to be triggered any day now. The region would have to implement the stay-at-home order within two days after it's triggered.

Under the stay-at-home order people would only be allowed out in public for essential services and exercise. Places such as barbershops and hair salons which have been allowed to open would have to close.

Retail stores, grocery stores and shopping malls could only operate at 20 percent capacity. And most public places such as playgrounds and parks would have to close. And restaurants which are now allowed to provide outdoor dining would be reduced to providing takeout only.

The stay-at-home order would be triggered when the region's ICU bed capacity falls below 15 percent. When that happens the stay-at-home order would remain in effect for three weeks. Once the region's ICU bed capacity goes back above 15 percent, Tulare County would return to the purple tier.

While the 15 percent capacity standard applies to the entire region as a whole, Sierra View Medical Center has been flirting with that capacity level for the past few days, reporting eight to nine of its 10 ICU beds were in use. On Thursday, Sierra View reported eight of its ICU beds were in use.

Sierra View also reported 10 of its 25 ventilators were in use. Sierra View has had 61 deaths due to COVID-19.

Sierra View reported 19 of its employees have now tested positive for COVID-19 and two have been hospitalized. Sierra View reported 70 of its employees have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19. Sierra View has had a total of 543 positive tests.

As far as the Pfizer vaccine a small number of frontline healthcare workers will be among the first to receive the vaccine. Two doses of the vaccine are administered with the second dose taken 21 days later.

Regions in the state placed their order for the vaccine on Friday. The San Joaquin Valley covering Mariposa, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern Counties makes up Region V and will receive just 16,705 vaccines.

As far as local schools, Woodville's waiver to reopen for grades K-6, which has been approved by the county, was still being reviewed by the state.

As far as its overall numbers, the health department reported 298 more cases in Tulare County on Friday. Since March 11 there have been 22,386 cases.

The health department did reported a substantial increase in recoveries, leading to the decrease in active cases. The number of recoveries increased by 356 on Friday. There are now 19,988 people in Tulare County who have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

The health department did report two more deaths on Friday, bringing the total number of deaths in Tulare County due to COVID-19 to 317. The county has data on 308 deaths of which 240 were ages 65 and older, 64 were ages 41-64 and four were under the age of 41.

There have been 120 deaths related to nursing homes and 188 deaths not related to nursing homes. The state model projects Tulare County to have 350 deaths by January 3.

Another bad sign for Tulare County is its R number has now gone from the “likely increasing” category to “likely increasing rapidly” as far as its rate of increase of the virus. Tulare County's R number is now 1.4

The number 1.4 represents the average number of people who would be infected by one infected person. The state's R number is 1.14.

Since March 11 there have ben 4,020 cases in the Porterville area, 321 cases in Strathmore, 792 cases in Lindsay, 260 cases in Terra Bella, 83 cases in foothill-mountain communities, 3,652 cases in Tulare, 2,256 cases in Dinuba, 164 cases in Richgrove, 28 cases in Alpaugh, 389 cases in Pixley, 152 cases in Tipton, 908 cases in Earlimart, 637 cases in Farmersville, 490 cases in Exeter, 378 cases in Woodlake,

426 cases in Cutler, 777 cases in Orosi, 48 cases in Goshen, 116 cases in Traver, 18 cases in the Reedley area and 11 cases in Orange Cove.

In Visalia there have been 2,584 cases in one region, 1,548 cases in another region and 1,888 cases in a third region.

There have been 3,172 cases ages 0-17, 3,545 cases ages 18-25, 6,426 cases ages 26-40, 6,940 cases ages 41-64 and 2,291 cases ages 65 and older.

There have been 12,861 cases who have been Hispanic, 2,409 have been Caucasian, 417 have been Asian, 121 have been African American, 102 have been Native American, 472 have been multi-race and 6,0004 are unknown.

There are 696 people in Tulare County under self-quarantine being monitored by public health officials.

With a population of nearly 470,000 people, Tulare County's rate has been 4.8 cases per 100 residents or 4.8 percent.

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