Kings County’s COVID infection rate is highest in the state

Kings County has had the highest number of cases per 10,000 population of all 58 counties in the state since the beginning of the pandemic, according an Coronavirus Weekly Tracker which appeared in the San Jose Mercury News. The data is based on state Department of Health Services statistics.

The county had 54,260 cases as of July 1, according to the article. This is a rate of 3,468 cases per 10,000 people, according to the article. The state DHS has since updated the total number of cases in the county to 54,725 as of July 11.

Kings County has a population of 157,614 and is the 34th largest county in terms of population.

And the burden of COVID fell disproportionately on the young with students and minors comprising the largest group of those infected, 23 percent or 10,408 cases, according to Kings County Health Department data. The next largest group infected was among the elderly and the unemployed, seven percent or 3,400 cases.

Also, the largest proportion of those infected were Hispanic, 55 percent or 24,826 cases, according to the county health department. The Caucasian infection percentage was 22 percent or 9,823, according to the county health department.

During the height of the pandemic the Kings County Board of Supervisors pushed for business openings instead of state- mandated closures and protested the governor’s mask mandates.

During the August 31 – September 29, 2020 period the county was in the worst infection category, the Tier 1 or Purple Tier, according to DHS.

Then County Board of Supervisors Chairman Doug Verboon told a state task force that the county needs more control from the state so it can take the necessary steps to get the county open while simultaneously checking the spread of the virus.

Business owners pressured the supervisors to reopen the county during this period saying the restrictions were destroying their livelihood. Verboon said during a board of supervisors meeting during the height of COVID that money is always number one with him.

The Hanford City Council voiced support for the county’s positions on COVID. Ironically Hanford was where COVID hit hardest. Hanford had 41 percent of the infections (22,589), according to the county health department.

And today conservative leaning Kings County remains a locale where many downplay the significance of the virus and reject the need for masks and vaccines. Tulare County Supervisors voiced similar sentiments and the attitude towards the virus among many Tulare County residents is similar to those in Kings.

Now the consequences of those decisions and attitudes have come home to roost in Kings showing the county is in the worst position of any county in the state in terms of the rate of infection per 10,000 people.

The burden of COVID also fell hard on Lemoore with 19 percent of the infections (10,741) and Corcoran had 10,684 cases which amounts to 19 percent of the county’s infections, according to the county health department.

Despite repeated attempts by Visalia-Hanford-Lemoore Future over several days to get a response from the Board of Supervisors or the county health department, none was forthcoming. If and when county officials respond, their response(s) will be included in an updated article.

The 3,468 cases per 10,000 persons in Kings is higher than Lassen County which is number two (3,105.3 per 10,000), Imperial County (3,065.4 per 10,000) and Los Angeles County (2,894.6 per 10,000), according to the Mercury News.

Tulare County fared much better than the above counties with a caseload of 2,314.4 per 10,000 people, according to the tracker which appeared in the July 3 issue of the Mercury News.

The total number of cases in Tulare County was 112,117 as of July 1. Tulare County ranked 14 out of 58 counties in terms of the total number of cases, according to the tracker.

However, the death rate in Kings ranked 12 in terms of deaths per 10,000 people. There has been a total of 449 deaths in Kings from the start of the epidemic until July 1, according to the state DHS.

By contrast, Tulare ranked the seventh highest in the state in deaths as of July 1. There were 1,497 deaths which results in a rate per 10,000 of 30.9, according to the tracker.

With only 46 percent of the population fully vaccinated, Kings is also sixth worst in the state, according to the tracker. The data excludes people who received boosters.

The county with the lowest percent of population fully vaccinated is Lassen with 32 percent, according to the tracker.

This is followed by Medoc with 39 percent and the Tehama 43 percent. Mariposa had a vaccination rate of 44 percent and Trinity’s figure was 45 percent. Counties with a similar but higher vaccination rate than Kings include Shasta with 47 percent and Siskiyou 49 percent.

Tulare County’s vaccination rate is 53 percent, according to the tracker.

The county with the lowest number of COVID cases per 10,000 population was Modoc with 830.6 cases, according to the state. San Francisco had among the lowest rates of infection of any county in the state and ranked 42nd in terms of cases per 10,000. Their figure was 1,780.4.

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