Tulare County case rate still too high to move to red tier, roughly 50% of recent cases tied to gatherings

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TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE) – As more Central Valley counties progress into the red tier, Tulare County’s case rate still remains too high for it to move tiers.

“It’s a little disappointing. Seems like all of our neighbors are going into the red tier and we’re still stuck in purple,” said Tulare County Supervisor Amy Shuklian.

A move into the red tier would allow for places like restaurants, movie theaters, places of worship and gyms to open indoors at a limited capacity.

Carrie Monteiro, the public information officer for Tulare County’s Health & Human Services Agency, said roughly 50% of recent cases in the county have been tied to gatherings.

“If we limit and refrain our gatherings which we have seen to be super spreaders in high environments of transmission, then we can help get those case rates down,” Monteiro said.

Tuesday’s update on the blueprint page showed Tulare County at a 9.2 case rate — that needs to get down to at least a 7 to meet red tier metrics.

However, the county’s overall positivity rate is at a 5.8% and its positivity rate in the most disadvantaged communities is at a 8%, which meets criteria for the red tier.

The health equity metric was recently added as criteria for moving into less restrictive tiers. This means not only does the county as a whole have to meet the positivity rate metric for the tier, but the positivity rate in the most disadvantaged communities does too. Tulare County is meeting both, according to blueprint page.

Monteiro said the county is offering pop-up mobile testing sites in some of these areas during the month of October.

“That way we’re taking testing to these areas and that will really help us in our efforts to make sure we don’t have any inequities,” she said.

As other neighboring counties move into the red tier, Shuklian said some business owners in Tulare County are frustrated and have decided to open indoors. She added that the county doesn’t have the manpower to enforce closures.

“There’s not much that we can do other than encourage and educate folks on the hazards of what they are doing,” Shuklian said.

In addition to avoiding gatherings, Monteiro urged residents to wear face coverings, isolate themselves from others if they contract COVID-19 and get tested.

If the county conducts more tests, the state could lower its adjusted case rate, she said. The state updates the blueprint page every Tuesday.

As Halloween approaches, Monteiro said they’re advising against haunted houses and trick-or-treating.

“At a porch, it’s very difficult when handing out candy in a porch setting to do the proper 6 ft social distancing as well as it’s difficult if someone is infectious and going door to door to trace back that infectious individual and to inform and contact those individuals that they have been exposed,” she said.

More information on the Tulare County guidance for celebrating Halloween safely can be found here.

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