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COVID cases and calls for testing increase; hospital asks community to limit gathering

  • Category: News
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Laura Florez-McCusker

VISALIA – On Tuesday, the largest acute care hospital in Tulare County reported increases in the number of its hospitalized COVID-19 patients, as well as in the number of rapid COVID tests it is performing, and strongly encouraged the community to limit its holiday gatherings.

On Tuesday, Kaweah Health was caring for 52 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, four of which were in the Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit. On October 24, Kaweah Health was down to just 14 COVID-positive patients in the hospital compared to its high of 91 patients on July 25. “We’re seeing the number of COVID-19 patients climb at a time when we’re already very full with non-COVID cases,” said Gary Herbst, Kaweah Health's Chief Executive Officer, noting that this week the Medical Center was at 89 percent occupancy across its adult areas. “We fear that this is the calm before the storm in many respects with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up and Christmas and New Year’s just weeks away.”

Kaweah Health is receiving on average 730 calls a day in November for COVID testing, with results provided within 24 hours – that’s up from an average of 224 calls a day in October, Herbst said. “We’re adding staff and providers as quickly as we can to help address this increase in need,” Herbst said. “We apologize for the waits that people have experienced and we hope for the community’s understanding as we work to care for them. We literally went from 115 calls on November 15 to 2,270 calls the very next day.”

On Monday, November 23, Kaweah Health set a single-day record testing more than 830 people across its campuses. Kaweah Health is working to keep up with the increase in demand for testing, which has resulted in longer wait times for those calling Kaweah Health’s COVID-19 Screening Hotline and for those seeking walk-in care at Kaweah Health’s Urgent Care locations, at Visalia Medical Clinic’s QuickCare and at Sequoia Prompt Care. Kaweah Health's COVID-19 Screening Hotline, 559-624-4110, allows patients and members of the community seeking testing, with or without symptoms, to schedule an appointment with a nurse practitioner.

“Many of those seeking testing are those planning to gather for the holidays,” Herbst said. As the community prepares to gather this holiday season, Kaweah Health also asks people to limit holiday gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Tulare County public health officials have also asked the community to reduce COVID-19 cases and deaths in Tulare County, by avoiding these high-risk activities:

  • Thanksgiving gatherings with non-household members held indoors
  • Potlucks, buffets, or other shared food meals
  • Crowds of people and places such as shopping malls, retail stores, parades, running events, and sports
  • Contact with anyone who is sick or may have been exposed to COVID-19

“We know it’s really, really hard. It’s not the way we normally celebrate our holidays, but we hope people can take comfort in helping others by doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID,” Herbst said.

Kaweah Health offers rapid COVID-19 testing for people whether or not they have symptoms at a number of locations. Information is listed below on how to be tested:

  • Exeter Health Clinic, 1014 San Juan Ave.

Open: Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Call: (559) 624-4110

  • Lindsay Health Clinic, 839 Rd 214

Open: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Effective Saturday, Dec. 5, the clinic will be open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Call: (559) 624-4110

  • Dinuba Health Clinic, 355 Monte Vista Drive

Open: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Call: (559) 624-4110

  • Urgent Care-Demaree, 3600 W. Flagstaff Ave., Visalia

Open: Daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Call: (559) 624-6800 or get in line at

  • Urgent Care-Court, 1633 S. Court St., Visalia

Open: Daily, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Call: (559) 624-6090 or get in line at

Rapid COVID-19 Testing is also Available at:

  • Visalia Medical Clinic QuickCare, 5400 W. Hillsdale Ave., Visalia, CA.

VMC QuickCare does not accept all insurance plans. Prior to receiving services, individuals should contact VMC to ensure their insurance is accepted.

Open: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Call: (559) 738-7555

  • Sequoia Prompt Care, 1110 S. Ben Maddox Way, Ste. B, in Visalia.

SPC does not accept all insurance plans. Prior to receiving services, individuals should contact SPC to ensure their insurance is accepted.

Open: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Kaweah Health shares COVID-19 information and regular updates with the community on its website at and on its social media accounts.