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Frequently Asked Questions

Community Engagement Virtual Meeting - Thursday, October 29


  1. Positive cases in County- 17,800; 338 Under self-quarantine
  2. Positive cases in hospital- 32 (one pediatric patient)
  3. Deaths in County 292
  4. Recovered Cases – 16,950
  5. Positive Employees 385 employees since inception of COVID, 26 are still out on leave. 13 providers since inception, one passed away, and none are on leave.
  6. Positivity Rate - vast improvement 4.6% over the last 7 days. 6.6% positivity rate for the quartile, health quality. The third metric, number of new cases every day, 8.3%.
  7. Hospital Census 87% capacity

Tulare County seems to have more deaths per 100,000 than the state average.

  • The State level is running 44 deaths per 100k and Tulare County is at 60 deaths per 100k. That is the reason we rank 5th in the State.

We are seeing an uptick in positive cases in our county, but our hospitalization numbers are staying low. What are your thoughts on that? Are they more mild cases than this summer? Are they younger people?

  • We are now testing anyone who wants to be tested. There are a number of people who are just staying home to quarantine and pass the symptoms. The symptoms of our hospitalized patients are not more mild, they are just coming in sooner which allows us to start treatment faster. In the last 14 days 64% of those testing positive are younger than 50, but, of the positive patients that are hospitalized 67% are over the age of 50.

The county’s positive cases are all over the place from 39 to 117 a day. Is this surge in positive cases due to the amount of testing we are doing? Are Kaweah Health’s employee numbers going up?

  • That is correct, we are now testing anyone who wants to be tested. That is why we aren’t seeing more hospitalizations but a surge in positivity. The expanded testing is now able to catch the asymptomatic people. Employee numbers are not rising as PPE has become more available and we are reducing employee exposure numbers.

Do you know what is causing the spike of cases in the Midwest?

  • This can be attributed to gatherings, large size, churches services, restaurants and even gyms that are open illegally. It can all be attributed to human contact.

Have you encountered a situation where an employee has tested positive but has no symptoms and can go back to work within three days?

  • No, I have not heard that. If one of our employees has tested positive, we require them to quarantine for 14 days. If you test positive you are contagious. After their quarantine, they can come back to work once their symptoms are gone. We do not require a negative test. If the County is advising that, we need to follow up on that.

Do you have any projections about when a COVID vaccine will be available?

  • We do not know when it will be available. Even when it comes available, there will be limitations and the state will determine who will get it first, workers, skilled nursing facility residents, etc

When we look back at past diseases it took years to come up with a vaccine that was safe. Why should we trust a vaccine that is being rushed?

  • Although the vaccine might appear to be being rushed, the government and all of the big pharmaceutical companies are focusing their attention on it. They will not release a vaccine until it is proven to be safe and effective.

Can you explain the new ransomware threat? How secure are Kaweah Health’s systems? Does Kaweah have a plan if it is targeted by ransom ware? This is the message we received from our CIO:

  • I received a joint alert from the FBI, HHS, and CISA (a division of the US Dept of Homeland Security called the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency). This alert referred to cybersecurity intelligence that one of the most feared cybercriminal gangs known for vicious ransomware attacks, the Russian-speaking organization called Ryuk, has plans to attack over 400 healthcare facilities in the U.S. I am aware of about 5 that have been hit in the last week, but since they have not shared the details of their attacks I cannot be sure that Ryuk was the perpetrator.
  • The alert does not say the specific attack vector or Indicators of Compromise (IoC) that Ryuk is planning to use, though you can be sure that phishing emails are at the top of the list, along with network intrusions, social engineering, etc.
  • Please remain VIGILANT at all times!!!
    • If we are attacked, included in the steps we could have to take are:
    • Shutting down the email system
    • Shutting off internet access
    • Shutting down the entire network (or parts of it)
    • And more…
  • Given that, be sure that you and your teams are fluent with your downtime procedures in case they become necessary, and have paper copies of necessary downtime forms.
  • Please know that we take many measures, involving people, processes, and technology, to help keep Kaweah Health safe, but we humans must always remain VIGILANT so that we do not fall prey to an attack and invite the cybercriminals into our network and systems.

Are negotiations continuing between Aetna Insurance and KDH/VMC? Seems we cannot go to a KDH facility, walk-in clinic nor VMC. We belong to a large employer here in town and many of us are quite frustrated and would like to know if/when negotiations will continue.

  • Yes and No. Kaweah Health Medical Foundation who is partnered with Visalia Medical Clinic, has its own contract with Aetna. Aetna has been one of the poorest paying insurance companies and they have been negotiating to get that rate higher and Aetna refused to budge. On September 27, 2020 they terminated the agreement with Aetna. That does not mean that negotiations will not open back up. Kaweah Health, on the other hand, has its own separate agreement with Aetna, so community members should be able to go to any Kaweah Health facility with that insurance.

Can you explain the tragedy that happened at our Rehabilitation hospital this week?

  • Unfortunately, a husband and wife in their 80’s were coming to the rehab hospital for therapy. The wife was the patient and the husband was pushing her in the wheel chair. Another patient of the facility came in at a high speed and hit the husband and wife with his vehicle. Sadly, the husband did not survive. Our deepest sympathy to both of the families involved. A shout out to our hospital chaplains who were on the scene comforting patients and staff members, and our first responders and staff members who jumped into action and started administrating care to the victims.