Tulare County coronavirus case rate still too high to reopen further

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's been one week since Tulare County Supervisors put their frustrations with the state's approach to reopening businesses into writing.

They passed a resolution with a list of demands, many of them directed at the state's top official.

"Tulare County demands that Governor Newsom not continue to modify the criteria and metrics used by the state to determine when businesses can begin to reopen in each county," one says.

"Just when we think we're close, boom, they change the rules," Tulare County Supervisor Amy Shuklian explained.

The resolution was sent to Sacramento on Friday. But while the requests have been made, the fact remains that Tulare County is stuck in the most restrictive tier of the state's blueprint for a safer economy-widespread, or purple-even as neighboring counties push forward.

"Purple used to be my favorite color," Shuklian said. "It's not anymore."

Tulare County does meet the COVID-19 positivity rate metric needed to move into another tier.

But the problem lies with the case rate, which is hovering at around nine to 10 new cases of the disease per day per 100,000 residents and needs to be seven or less new cases a day.

County public health officials say the high case rate shows that community transmission of the virus is still happening, and oftentimes the spread is connected to gatherings.

"We're hearing reports of weddings, funerals, family birthday parties," said Tulare County HHSA Spokesperson Carrie Monteiro. "And it's important for the public to know, those are high-risk environments and super spreaders for COVID-19 if proper social distancing and masking are not in place."

To help slow the spread, which will lower the county's case rate and allow it to reopen more sectors of its economy, officials say residents can do a few things-wear a mask, isolate if you're infected, and get tested.

"The more individuals that we get tested, the more that we can find where the virus is spreading and do our diligence to slow the spread and then find ways to lower that case rate," Monteiro added.

Recently, the areas of Tulare and Porterville have seen the highest case counts. Combined, they account for more than 300 new cases over the last three weeks.

Meanwhile, Tulare County public health officials continue to expand access to COVID-19 testing.

See below for the county's mobile testing schedule for the rest of October.

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