Tulare County confirms first case of coronavirus

The County is following the California Department of Public Health’s guidelines and recommending that all events or gatherings of more than 250 persons be postponed.

Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County Public Health Officer

Karen Elliott, Tulare County HHSA Public Health Director

On Wednesday afternoon, March 11, Tulare County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Haught announced the inevitable: Tulare County had its first individual who tested positive for COVID-19, the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. The individual was not among the 11 high-risk individuals that are currently being monitored by Tulare County Public Health.

The patient, who recently began to have symptons, sought to be tested at Sierra View Hospital in Porterville. Following the positive results, County heath personnel  began an investigation. It is believed that contact with the coronavirus occurred outside of Tulare County. All known persons with whom the patient has had recent contact are being investigated and will be recommended to be tested.

“We hope the patient has a quick recovery,” said Dr. Haught. “The safety and well being of our community remains our top priority, and we are asking community members to remain calm and implement appropriate infection control and procedures like staying home when ill and practicing social distancing.”

At a press conference on Thursday, March 12, Karen Elliott, Public Health Director for Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency, told a gathering of media partners how her office plans to keep the public updated throughout the coronavirus crisis. The County, Elliott said, is following the California Department of Public Health’s guidelines and recommending that all events or gatherings of more than 250 persons be postponed. If a large event is held, washing and sanitizing stations should be on-site and attendees should remain at least six feet apart.

Those guidelines cast a net of uncertainty on the eve of the area’s event season that has already scheduled Jazzaffair (April 16-19), Lions Team Roping (April 24-26), and Redbud Festival and Woodlake Rodeo on Mother’s Day weekend (May 9-10).

Sequoia National Park is also considering guidelines for assemblages of people at its busiest attractions like the General Sherman Tree and Moro Rock. Hotels and vacation rentals are reporting numerous cancellations.

To get an inkling of how fast things can change in a crisis, 3RNews interviewed public health officials on Wednesday morning (March 11) and there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tulare County. By the end of the afternoon, a patient tested positive and the first case had been confirmed accerlerating the need for testing.

In Part 1 (above) and Part 2 (below) of these 3R News interviews with Tulare County Public Health officials Tammie Weyker, Tulare County HHSA public information officer, and Staci Chastain, deputy director of the Public Health Branch, review coronavirus protocols. Here’s what you need to know to stay healthy, and if you do get sick, what to do and when.

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