The message was clear from Tulare County Health and Human Services Director Tim Lutz: If the county doesn't show improvement when it comes to its number of COVID-19 cases, the rollback of industries opening will continue for a longer period.
And it's possible more industries could be rolled back in the future if the county's trend when it comes to COVID-19 cases continues, Lutz said. That was the message Lutz presented at the Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.
Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a mandate in counties on the state watch list, including Tulare County, calling for a rolling back of some industries opening such as the discontinuation of restaurants offering dine-in service.
That order is in place for three weeks but Lutz said that mandate will probably last longer in Tulare County. “We'll likely continue to have to have the industries dialed back,” Lutz said.
But he also said it's possible if the situation doesn't improve more industries that have been allowed to open could be shut down such as nail salons, gyms and some retail stores.
Lutz said when it comes to the spread of COVID-19 it's occurring “across the county and across all sectors.”
He said a troubling development is some are not self-quarantining after they are tested and returning to work before they receive their results. Those who test positive end up spreading COVID-19 to others.
“It was quite a busy week last week unfortunately,” said Lutz, who added the county continues to see a “significant rise in cases.”
Lutz reported on Tuesday morning there has now been 5,175 cases in Tulare County, an increase of 1,019 — more than 25 percent — over last week. Tuesday's number was an increase of 166 over the 5,009 that was reported on Monday.
Lutz also reported three more deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Tulare County to 139. There have been 13 deaths due to COVID-19 in Tulare County in the last week. The state model projects Tulare County will have 264 deaths by August 6.
The case rate over a 14-day period also continues to rise significantly in Tulare County. Lutz said that rate has increased by 51.6 percent over what it once was had has increased from 251.7 per 100,000 to 381.7 per 100,000 over the last week. “We have had a pretty high rate of spread across our community,” Lutz said.
Lutz noted Imperial County has had a number as high as 966 per 100,000 which is a “pretty staggering number” he said.
Lutz also clarified the meaning of the state's R-eff value. While Tulare County's R-eff Value is 1.05 which is “likely stable,” Lutz said that value means the number of cases in Tulare County will continue to increase at its current rate.
As far as positive tests, last week's positivity rate for Tulare County was revised down to 7.9 percent from 8.4 percent, which is under what the state wants at 8 percent.
But that was short-lived. Lutz reported this week's positivity rate was 14.3 percent and while that will also should be revised down, it will still be well above the 8 percent threshold.
As far as testing as of Monday morning, the Tulare County testing lab had actually done more tests than the state lab. There have been 11,752 tests administered at the Tulare County testing lab while there have been 11,635 done at the state lab.
Lutz said the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Tulare County remains “an area of significant concern” and has increased 44.4 percent over last week. On Tuesday Lutz reported Tulare County has 78 COVID-19 hospitalizations. Of the 78, nine are in intensive care.
While that number “sounds small” Lutz said, it does affect the overall capacity of hospitals. Sierra View Medical Center had to set up eight gurneys in a conference room last week.
Sierra View has also began transferring less serious COVID-19 patients to the Porterville Alternate Care Site at the Porterville Developmental Center.
Lutz said it's likely other regions would look to use the PDC site and he expects the facility to eventually be expanded for a capacity of 150.
Lutz also reported there have been 722 doses of Remdesivir, which has been reported to have a positive impact on the recovery of COVID-19 patients, administered in Tulare County.
He said 49 patients have received the medication at Sierra View. He said as of Tuesday, Sierra View was out of the medication but more would be allocated.
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
The number of recoveries continues to increase in Tulare County. Those in Tulare County who have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19 is now up to 3,398.
But the number of active cases also continued to rise and is now up to 1,638. There are 487 confirmed cases at nursing homes.
There have been 734 cases in the Porterville area. In Visalia there have been 651 cases in one region, 430 cases in another region and 430 cases in a third region.
The official tally for Lindsay is 241. There have been 767 cases in Tulare and 669 cases in Dinuba. There have been 58 cases in Strathmore, nine cases in foothill-mountain communities, 219 cases in Earlimart, 14 cases in Richgrove, 132 cases in Farmersville, 68 cases in Exeter, 17 cases in Goshen,
215 cases in Orosi, 32 cases in Traver, 55 cases in Woodlake, 117 cases in Pixley, 18 cases in Tipton, 11 cases in the Reedley area and 11 cases in Orange Cove.
The ethnic breakdown is 2,544 cases have been Hispanic, 542 are caucasian, 92 are Asian, 25 are African-American, 11 are Native-American, 47 are multi-race and 1,748 are unknown.
There have been 63 cases reported as travel-related, 1,993 cases are person-to-person contact and 2,953 cases are under investigation.
There have been 583 cases ages 0-17, 754 cases ages 18-25, 1,335 cases ages 26-40, 1,588 ages 41-64 and 749 ages 65 and older.
Those in Tulare County under self-quarantine and being monitored by public officials remained the same at 981.
As of 4:30 p.m. Monday, Sierra View Medical Center had 115 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 26 COVID-19 inpatients.
Sierra View has had 20 deaths due to COVID-19. Seven out of 10 ICU beds were in use. As of Sunday, Sierra View has had 2,725 tests conducted.
With a population of about 470,000 people, Tulare County's overall rate is now at about 1.3 cases per 100 residents or about 1.3 percent.
Tulare County's doubling time — the amount of days in which it would take cases to double that measures how flat the curve of cases is — continues to drop slightly and was down to 19.1 days as of Monday.