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October 7, 2021 - Community Engagement Virtual Meeting



  • Positive Cases in Tulare County:
    The total active cases in our County as of Wednesday, 10/6 stands at 2,555, which is down by 572 from last week. The current positivity rate is at 9.7%, which is up by 1.8% from the reported data from last week.
  • Positive COVID-19 cases currently in Kaweah Health:
    As of Thursday 10/7, we have 110 Adult patients and 1 pediatric patient in the hospital with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
  • How many are in ICU and do we have empty beds in our ICU?
    14 patients are in the ICU with a COVID-19 diagnosis, our ICU capacity is 41 and current census in the ICU is at 36.
  • Positive Employees at Kaweah Delta:
    As of Wednesday, we has 42 employees on leave related to COVID-19.
  • Hospital Census:
    Our total capacity at the main campus is 344 adult beds; We are currently holding patients in the Emergency Department and are over capacity.

How many COVID-19 tests are we doing at our clinics each day?

Collectively with the rural clinics and the urgent cares we are averaging around 360 COVID tests a day.

Is this number slowing down or picking up?
It has been pretty consistent week over week.

What is the percentage of vaccinated people in our County?
As of Monday, 10/4, our County is reporting that 233,180 (51%) residents ages 12+ have received 1 or more doses of the vaccine. 202,245 or 44% of our population are fully vaccinated.

What about Kaweah Health employees?
As of Wednesday, 10/6, we stand at 80%, of our active staff being vaccinated and have received 925 declinations.

There are still COVID-19 deaths happening, but, the numbers seem to be lower than earlier this year. Are we understanding the virus better and treating it more effectively?
We are not seeing as many people become as severely ill as they did last year. We are employing many of the same treatments as we did in the winter surge, but the numbers of severely ill are fewer. We are seeing those who need critical care level of intense services are having a hard time but we are not seeing as many get to that level of need.

Why have they not closed schools?
Closing of schools would be a directive from the Governor.

Everyone was dreading the Governor’s 9/30 deadline, but we have heard it did not affect Kaweah Health like we were worried it would.
We were concerned if the mandate did not allow for any flexibility for declinations that we would be faced with having to terminate people. The mandate allowed for medical and religious belief exemptions, so our staff still had choices.

Has there been more information passed down to healthcare facilities about President Biden’s vaccine mandate?
We have only heard that same initial notification that organizations will be mandated, no new information. The only different this will make for our organization is we have some people not involved in patient care or in patient care facilities who are not subjected to the mandate. These people will now also be subject and we will update their vaccine or declination status.

Gary Herbst, Kaweah Health’s CEO, was at Visalia County Center Rotary last week and he talked about the nursing shortage. That was an eye-opener. Why can’t we open up more space or co-horts in the College of the Sequoias nursing program?
We have been working with the nursing programs to help support more seats. The state ultimately has to approve the expansion of the programs so on behalf of Kaweah Health I have written letters of support to show we will help ensure the additional seats will not compromise student experiences. With additional seats we need more instructors, clinical cohorts and clinical experience locations like patient care units. We support this for our programs, but the state has to review the need and ability to ensure high quality education experiences before they will approve the additional slots being opened. We are very supportive of program growth and the slots being designated for local students who will then work in our community when they complete the program. We also work with San Joaquin College and West Hills college and their nursing programs.

A community member’s daughter tested positive in December of 2020. Then she was sick again in July and tested negative. They just had her tested for antibodies and she had them.
The second illness may have been a break through Delta Variant COVID infection.

  • Could the antibodies be from her infection in December or do you think she received a false negative test in July?
    It is highly possible that the antibodies from the December natural infection were still present in the blood. Based on my research, antibodies can be present from between 6 to 8 months following an active infection.

Based on the timing of the COVID test and the type of COVID test performed, Antigen test versus the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test (Gold Standard), the viral load that may have not been significant enough for the test to measure the infection. All diagnostic tests are subject to false negative results. As a provider, if you highly suspect a COVID infection and a rapid screening test was used; the PCR test could be used to confirm the negative result. Rapid tests are most accurate when used by people with COVID-19 symptoms in places with a lot of community spread. Under those conditions, a rapid test produces correct results 80 to 90 per cent of the time

  • How long do antibodies stay in the system?
    There is varying reports about the how long the antibodies last following an active/natural infection, of up to 8 months is the range that I have.

During the webinar two weeks ago, the possibility of being able to open additional slots for elective surgeries was mentioned. Has that happened?
We have not expanded the volume of surgeries that require an admission following surgery.

Los Angeles County just issued one of the strictest vaccine mandates in the Country. (concerts, bars, nail salons, gyms, etc.) This does not apply to grocery stores, retail establishments, or pharmacies. Have there been any rumblings on any of the county meetings you participate in that this might be coming to Tulare County?
I have not heard this discussed for Tulare County at this point. I think our board of supervisors will listen to the community before making a decision so I recommend reaching out to them to voice questions if you want to be involved in impacting that decision.