The “surge on top of the surge” may be beginning.

There was a huge increase in Tulare County's case rate on Thursday that shows another surge after the initial holiday surge health officials feared could be happening. On Thursday, the Tulare County Health and Human Services Department reported the county's unofficial, preliminary case rate was 86.8 per 100,00 residents over a 7-day period, a an increase of 12.6 over the previous day.

The “spike” in deaths as Tulare County Health and Human Services Director Tim Lutz put it also continue on Thursday as the health department reported nine more deaths, bringing the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Tulare County to 442.

The county has data on 406 deaths of which 317 were ages 65 and older, 82 were ages 41-64 and seven were ages 26-40. None have been under the age of 26.

There have been 138 deaths related to nursing homes and 268 deaths not related to nursing homes. Sierra View Medical Center has had 97 deaths due to COVID-19.

There was no change in the San Joaquin Valley's status as far as the stay-at-home order is concerned. The Valley's ICU availability is still reported officially at 0 percent and “does not meet criteria to exit order.” On Thursday the health department reported there were five ICU beds available, 9.3 percent, in Tulare County.

As of Wednesday there were no ICU beds available at Sierra View as the hospital reported all 10 of its ICU beds were in use.

There were two small bright spots in Thursday's report. The health department reported on Thursday there were 221 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Tulare County, a decrease of 13 from the previous day. On Wednesday, Sierra View reported it had 47 COVID-19 patients and three patients suspected of having COVID-19.

Sierra View reported eight of its 25 ventilators were in use. Sierra View reported it now has 26 employees who have tested positive for COVID-19, including five who have been hospitalized.

There have been 123 employees who have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19. Sierra View has had a total of 843 positive tests.

And despite the large increase in the case rate, Tulare County's R number that measures the rate of the spread of the virus remained stable and actually dropped from .98 to .97. So Tulare County continues to be in the “likely stable” category, meaning the increased rate of the spread of the virus is expected to continue at its current level.

The number .97 represents the average number of people who would be infected by one infected person. The state's R number is also .97.

When the stay-at-home order is eventually lifted, Tulare County will return to the most restrictive tier, the purple tier. In order for the county to move into the next least restrictive tier, the red tier, it must reduce its case rate to 7 per 100,000.

The health department also reported an increase of 78 in the number of active cases on Thursday. There are now 4,709 people in Tulare County who have tested positive for COVID-19.

There was a large increase in the number of recoveries on Thursday. The health department reported the number of recoveries increased by 237 on Thursday. There are now 31,063 people in Tulare County who have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

But the number of overall cases increased by 324 on Thursday. Since March 11 there have been 36,412 cases in Tulare County.

There have been 7,038 cases in the Porterville area, 83 cases in Springville, 83 cases in foothill-mountain communities, 477 cases in Strathmore, 1,353 cases in Lindsay, 6,434 cases in Tulare, 3,241 cases in Dinuba, 225 cases in Richgrove, 596 cases in Pixley, 255 cases in Tipton, 60 cases in Alpaugh, 1,126 cases in Earlimart, 895 cases in Farmersville, 799 cases in Exeter, 630 cases in Woodlake, 38 cases in Three Rivers, 570 cases in Cutler, 1,054 cases in Orosi, 71 cases in Goshen, 180 cases in Traver, 43 cases in the Reedley area and 13 cases in Orange Cove.

In Visalia there have been 3,161 cases in one region, 2,600 cases in another region and 4,027 cases in a third region.

There have veen 5,143 cases ages 0-17, 5,694 cases ages 18-25, 10,343 cases ages 26-40, 11,269 cases ages 41-64 and 3,749 cases ages 65 and older.

There have been 20,014 cases who have been Hispanic, 4,690 have been Caucasian, 708 have been Asian, 227 have been African American, 201 have been Native American, 1,102 have been multi-race and 9,972 are unknown.

There are 308 people in Tulare County in self-quarantine being monitored by public health officials.

With a population of about 470,000 people, Tulare County has had a rate of 7.6 cases per 100 residents or 7.6 percent.

TRAVEL

The Governor's office provided a website on Thursday covering essentially what the state policy now is on travel. The webiste covers what's considered essential travel and the state's current travel guidelines.

“The new Travel page says what’s allowed in California, what’s not, and why.” the Governor's website states. The website can be found here: https://covid19.ca.gov/travel/

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