Tulare County health officials tie large number of COVID-19 cases to gatherings

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Tulare County has been averaging about 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 each week.

Of those 1,000 new cases from last week, county contact tracers were able to talk to 650 people.

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Officials say the tracers were able to determine a little less than half (42%) were exposed to the virus at a gathering, defined as when people spend time with those who live outside of their own home.

Of those gatherings, 65% were get-togethers with family and friends. A much smaller percentage of the positive cases were related to work and religious gatherings.

"We're seeing concrete evidence that exposure is occurring and transmission of the virus is occurring at gatherings," said Tulare County HHSA Public Information Officer Carrie Monteiro. "So we're really asking the people of Tulare County to be vigilant and implore you at this time of wide community spread...to refrain from gathering with individuals outside our immediate household so we can get containment of this virus and slow further spread."

Given that tracers weren't able to reach a few hundred people who tested positive last week, county health officials are also asking for more compliance with the contact tracing process.

If you get a call from them, answer it.

Contact tracers are will not ask for personal information, and the information you share, such as names of others you have come into contact with, is confidential.

"We're looking to find out where you've been so we can pinpoint the exposure of the virus, and then we're also looking to see who you've been in contact with so we can in turn inform them and do our effort to help slow the spread," Monteiro said.

How does that process slow the spread of COVID-19? Monteiro explains that contact tracers tell the exposed to get tested and quarantine-which reduces the risk of them passing it along to someone else.

Tulare County is hiring more contact tracers.

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