South Valley hospitals plead with public to get vaccinated as COVID surge continues

Local News

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE) — On Wednesday, South Valley hospital officials held a press conference laying out what they’re seeing in their hospitals.

The numbers showed that those who are unvaccinated are most at risk. Meanwhile, the delta variant drives the COVID-19 surge the Central Valley is experiencing.

Keri Noeske, the chief nursing officer at Kaweah Health in Visalia, said the hospital was caring for 64 patients with COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning — many are younger patients.

Of those 64 patients, 11 were in the ICU.

Of those 11 patients, 10 are unvaccinated.

“We are seeing that more people are getting COVID and coming up positive, even vaccinated,” Noeske says. “What the difference is, is they’re sick maybe a day or two at home. Then they start to feel better pretty quick.”

Noeske said with this surge, they’re seeing younger patients.

“Since the beginning of July, 53% of our patients are under the age of 60 with the median age being about 58,” Noeske said. “We are seeing the biggest number of positive COVID cases within our health system are between the ages of 20 and 49 and that is a lot of our hospitalizations too.”

At Sierra View Medical Center in Porterville, president & CEO Donna Hefner said 14 confirmed patients with COVID-19 are hospitalized — 13 are unvaccinated and one is partially vaccinated.

Per Tulare County Public Health data, just about 42% of the county’s total population is vaccinated with at least one dose, falling behind many parts of the state.

With those on the frontlines seeing the heartbreak firsthand, they’re pleading with the public once again.

“When they ended up on the ventilator or very close to being on the ventilator, they had expressed this emotional plea to their family members to go get vaccinated,” said Dr. Gurvinder Kaur, the medical officer at Adventist Health in the Central Valley. “That is the most heart-wrenching plea and that really does hit you as healthcare workers and that’s where I’m coming from when I make this plea to our communities; I really would urge people to not make the mistake of not getting vaccinated if you are eligible for it.”

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