Tulare County seeing large increase in COVID cases among younger people

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A concerning national and state trend in the coronavirus pandemic is also playing out in Tulare County.

Health officials there report a 68% increase in positive COVID-19 cases in people aged 17 and younger over the last two weeks, and a more than 50% increase in cases in the 26-40 age group.

Supervisor Amy Shuklian said she's not surprised by the statistics.

She's hearing of lots of large gatherings at places like bars, which have been ordered to shut down again in Tulare County.

"If we could just pull it back a little bit, pull it together, operate by the guidelines, that would be nice," Shuklian said.

Kaweah Delta Medical Center has been tracking trends in age too, and say 40% of their hospitalized patients are now under the age of 65.

There's still ICU bed capacity, but Kaweah Delta Director of Care Management Keri Noeske said the hospital is full.

COVID hospitalizations continue to rise, and as of Tuesday morning, the number had climbed to 55.

"The more people that need to be hospitalized because of COVID, there's less beds for the other patients that are coming in," Noeske said. "So the surge isn't necessarily a hospital full of patients that have COVID. The surge is patients with COVID on top of our everyday what we normally have here in the hospital."
More COVID patients also creates logistical and physical challenges for healthcare workers.

And for those frontline workers, Noeske said, nothing about the threat of the coronavirus has changed.

"When people talk about only 3% of people are hospitalized - 3% is big here," Noeske said. "So 55 patients out of 300 patients, that's a big number of patients and it really stretches the teams in the hospitals when we maybe didn't have to have them hospitalized in the first place."

Supervisor Shuklian hopes people will do their part.

It could prevent another shutdown, and more importantly, possibly save a life.

"Families have lost their loved ones because of it," Shuklian said. "So for me it's just a matter of 'Hey I'll wear a mask, I'll social distance, I'll do my part in what I need to do'."

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to ABC30.com/coronavirus
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