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Frequently Asked Questions

Community Engagement Virtual Meeting - Thursday, August 20

Question #1: Current Numbers

  • Positive cases in Tulare County - 12,836
  • Positive Inpatients at Kaweah Health - 43
  • Deaths in Tulare County - 208
  • Recovered Cases in Tulare County -11,520
  • Positive Kaweah Health Employees - 322 employees quarantined, 255 have recovered, 67 on leave.
  • Tulare County Positivity Rate - 13.8%
  • Kaweah Health Hospital positivity rate - 14%
  • Kaweah Health Hospital Census – 291 total patients; 90% capacity

Question #2: When is it OK to wear a face shield and not a mask?

  • ANSWER: Never. Don’t do that. Remember when someone talks or sneezes they are projecting water droplets. And if someone is relatively close to you the face shield will block droplets and act as a sneeze guard but you should always wear a mask with the shield as the droplets can get under the face shield and you can breathe the droplets in.

Question #3: Can you compare the numbers we are seeing with COVID-19 and our last couple years of flu seasons? During flu season we often have multiple tents outside of ER with the hospital running over capacity and no numbers being reported like we currently have with COVID-19. However, now due to the excessive media coverage and newness with Covid19 we are constantly being updated with numbers but it doesn’t sound like we have ever hit capacity. How do COVID-19 numbers compare to our past few years with the flu season?

  • ANSWER: COVID-19 numbers differ from the flu in the volume of positive COVID-19 cases in a short period of time. The tents outside the ED right now are not related to volume, they are there to reduce the risk of spread of the virus and allow us physical separation of patients when working them up for potential COVID-19 virus. We have hit 90-95% capacity in the hospital frequently. We have also learned some things about surge throughout this pandemic that may be useful in the future. We have not had high ED volumes holding throughout the pandemic and are working to ensure staffing is in place before flu season. When looking at flu volumes the last few years, our highest flu volume detected at various entities throughout Kaweah Health was this past year. We had a total of 4,273 cases detected. 339 of those patients were admitted. This occurred over 6 months’ time last year. In the almost six months of our response to COVID-19 we have had 3,345 patients test positive through our health care system and over 700 admissions of patients with COVID-19. The constant update of information is really due to the fact that the virus is highly transmissible and organizations, businesses, schools, churches and health care organizations have to make decisions about operations since the virus spreads so easily. Most of the population has immunity or a vaccination to the flu since we have been preventing its spread for so long. We do not have immunity to COVID-19 and the risk of spread is high. More people infected could mean more people in the hospital. Hospital capacity is not typically designed to treat so many people at the same time. Being conscientious, aware and informed by information sharing helps keep people healthy. If we fill the hospital with patients who have COVID-19, we will limit our ability to take care of other illnesses, including the flu. People also have worse outcomes when COVID-19 takes hold. In our hospital, 70% of patients who went on the ventilator at some point did not survive. We have seen patients have multi-organ failure from the infection and lack of oxygen, making it even harder for them to fully recover. This is not the typical course for the flu.

Question #4: If our numbers continue to go down, will the current visitor restrictions be lifted?

  • ANSWER: We restricted our visitors early on in March. It has helped decrease the spread. We have allowed visitors under certain guidelines into the hospital. Having a baby, children who are admitted, patients with developmental needs, and end of life. We anticipate we would like to open up in the future strategically when the science and community allow. We have not set a baseline. It is dependent on the guidance as well from the State.

Question #5: How is the number of recovered COVID patients derived?

  • ANSWER: The county follows up with COVID patients and once the patient meets the 14 days from positive test and if it has been at least 10 days since patient symptoms started and have gone 3 days without symptoms, like fever or respiratory then the patient is recovered as well. All CDC strategies.

    There are schools that are trying to implement routine testing. Symptomatic testing is based off of scarcity of supplies. As more companies come out with more testing capability, there is more access to test more liberally. There are stories in the media that there are testing platforms for schools to test students with a baseline. Which is so but we (Kaweah) do symptomatic testing because we are limited supplies. We have to use our supplies more judicially.

    The hospital positivity rate isn’t summations we use or give to the county. It is our own number we track. The county uses Tulare County residents tested at all labs. We just track ours for our information and awareness.

    The state increased our testing allocations, but we are waiting for those tests to pass quality measure and be sent out.

Question #6: College of the Sequoias started classes this week; with some limited labs in person. If the opening of labs did cause a spike in COVID cases, would the tracers be able to provide feedback to COS? What is KD’s current capacity to take new COVID acute cases, in case there is a spike in cases during the next 2-4 weeks?

  • ANSWER: If someone comes up positive the County will get in touch and interview them. We are reliant on that student to report correct/truthful information. The County would then call and let the school know there was a possible exposure in the school program. We are not concerned about any surge that may arise. Overall we do have beds.

Question #7: If someone has COVID and they walked past me on the other side of a fence, what are the chances I can get COVID?

  • ANSWER: If they sneezed or cough it could be likely if there were holes in the fence. If you were all in a small space for a prolonged period of time with someone who has COVID then it is possible as well. Keep the six foot distance. If you are in your yard or outside then just be aware but you don’t need a mask. Keep distance.

Question #8: How much longer will the U.S. Department of Defense be at KD?

  • ANSWER: August 28th is the last day they are scheduled here and they will be redeploying on the 29th.

Question #9: Are you worried about staffing if they leave?

  • ANSWER: We are always worried about staff and them staying healthy, but we have on boarded 176 RNs since March. I am not as worried as we were during the peak of COVID response in July when our hospital was at 95% capacity and do hope we have achieved better staffing in preparation for possible increases in census again.

Question #10: Why is it okay for you to sit together on this Webinar without masks?

  • ANSWER: We have distance here, but Jon and I are in a bubble and we have spent five months together and it has been a lot of time working together and we know each other’s habits outside of work and know the precautions on both sides of the families. I am proud of whoever asked that!! We do work to have a lot of distance here. Everyone else in the room has their masks on.

Question #11: Should we be getting flu shots now?

  • ANSWER: I think there are flu shots out there. It is okay to start when providers have them available. It is absolutely okay. Infection Prevention watches the trends in Australia and they are mild to start. We will keep an eye on it as is our normal routine. October through December is usually very mild and then it hits in January. We always prepare for the worst.