While Tulare County didn't technically meet the threshold to allow more high school, youth and adult recreation sports to be held on an expanded basis, it was suggested by Tulare County Supervisor Dennis Townsend that maybe the county could be more “liberal” as far as the guidelines are concerned.

The suggestion was made during the weekly presentation by Tulare County Health and Human Services Director Tim Lutz on the status of COVID-19 in the county at Tuesday's Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting.

The state released guidelines last week that would allow more sports on an expanded basis in counties that had a case rate of 14 or less per 100,000 residents over a 7-day period. Those counties that met that threshold could offer more sports beginning on Friday.

But Tulare County didn't meet that threshold as its official case rate as released by the state was 18.4 per 100,000 or .0184 percent, said Tulare County Health and Human Services Director Tim Lutz. That number does continue to drop and came down from last week's case rate of 24.8 per 100,000.

But as far as the guidelines, Townsend asked Lutz if the county could be “pretty liberal with our guidance.”

As far as possibly loosening the guidelines for more sports participation, Lutz said “that would be my preference as well.”

Lutz said the county has been receiving numerous questions on the issue and hopes to present its guidance as far as sports participation is concerned this week.

Under the state guidelines, counties that have case rates of 14 or less per 100,000 can begin offering sports such as baseball and softball with far less restrictions. In those counties, sports such as football, water polo and soccer can also be offered, but the restrictions are far greater.

Those restrictions include all participants 13 and older having to be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis and test results to be known 24 hours before a competition.

Tulare County is in the most restrictive tier, the purple tier. The county, though, once again cleared one hurdle to moving into the next least restrictive tier, the red tier.

Lutz reported Tulare County's overall positive test rate is 6.9 percent, which is below the eight percent threshold to move into the red tier. The county's equity metric positive test rate for its most disadvantaged areas, which also must be below eight percent, also came closer to reaching that threshold.

Lutz reported that rate dropped from 11 percent to 9.1 percent on Tuesday. Tulare County must also reduce its case rate to 7 per 100,000 to move into the red tier.

Lutz did report an increase of 118 cases on Tuesday. Since March 11 there have been 47,680 cases in Tulare County. That works out to roughly 10 percent as 1 in 10 residents in Tulare County have tested positive for COVID-19. Lutz said the number of cases increased by 2,282 over the last two weeks.

But after the county reported an increase of two deaths over the weekend, Lutz reported a large increase in deaths on Tuesday as he reported nine more deaths.

There have now been 731 deaths due to COVID-19 in Tulare County. Lutz reported there have been 70 more deaths in Tulare County due to COVID-19 over the last two weeks.

The county has data on 720 deaths of which 547 were ages 65 and older, 158 were ages 41-64 and 14 were ages 26-40. One child in Tulare County has died due to complications with COVID-19.

There have been 187 deaths related to nursing homes and 532 deaths not related to nursing homes. Sierra View Medical Center has had 148 deaths due to COVID-19.

Tulare County's R number which measures the rate of spread of the virus stayed the same at .74, putting the county in the “likely decreasing” category. That means the rate of spread of the virus is expected to increase at a lower level than its current rate. The number .74 represents the average number of people who would be infected by one infected person.

SCHOOLS UPDATE

Lutz said Burton, Woodville, Lindsay and California Hot Springs School Districts plan to reopen for all students in grades K-6 now that the county's case rate has fallen below 25 per 100,000. Burton School District will reopen for students of families who choose to send their children back to school in grades K-6 on Monday.

But there's still no movement at the state level to allow students in grades 7-12 to return on a more expanded basis. The threshold for all students to return school with far less restrictions remains counties having a case rate of 7 per 100,000.

Lutz reported on Tuesday there were 50 active COVID-19 cases with students and 31 active cases with staff in county schools.

BY THE NUMBERS

The number of active cases continued to gradually go down on Tuesday. The number of active cases declined by 50. There are now 1,132 people in Tulare County who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The number of recoveries increased by 159 on Tuesday. There are now 45,817 people in Tulare County who have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

Since March 11 there have been 9,649 cases in the Porterville area, 149 cases in Springville, 43 cases in foothill-mountain communities, 688 cases in Terra Bella, 617 cases in Strathmore, 1,770 cases in Lindsay, 8,470 cases in Tulare, 4,057 cases in Dinuba, 323 cases in Richgrove, 78 cases in Alpaugh, 765 cases in Pixley, 359 cases in Tipton, 1,420 cases in Earlimart, 1,138 cases in Farmersville, 1,016 cases in Exeter, 51 cases in Three Rivers, 883 cases in Woodlake, 737 cases in Cutler, 1,408 cases in Orosi, 87 cases in Goshen, 240 cases in Traver, 57 cases in the Reedley area, 21 cases in Orange Cove and 486 cases in Ivanhoe.

In Visalia there have been 5,202 cases in one region, 3,428 cases in another region and 4,100 cases in a third region.

There have been 7,079 cases ages 0-17, 7,423 cases ages 18-25, 13,398 cases ages 26-40, 14,812 cases ages 41-64 and 4,942 cases ages 65 and older.

There have been 26,407 cases who have been Hispanic, 6,578 have been Caucasian, 944 have been Asian, 329 have been African American, 305 have been Native American, 1,579 have been multi-race and 11,538 are unknown.

There are 209 people in Tulare County under self-quarantine being monitored by public health officials.

On Monday Sierra View reported it had 11 COVID-19 patients and seven patients suspected of having COVID-19. Sierra View reported seven of its 10 ICU beds were in use. Sierra View reported eight of its 22 ventilators were in use.

Sierra View reported it now has two employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and 170 employees who have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19. Sierra View has had a total of 1,112 positive tests.

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