The Human Services Branch of the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA) confirms that one public employee at the Porterville Child Welfare Services Office, located at 1055 West Henderson in Porterville, has tested positive for the coronavirus. The employee began to show symptoms and notified a supervisor.
The County has instructed all employees during this time that they should not come to work if they show any symptoms of illness. The Agency has closed the location for cleaning and is notifying all members of its workforce with whom the infected employee may have had potential contact. The Agency had begun to limit the number of employees working at each of its sites in March, which has limited exposure to other County employees. Additionally, public access to this office has remained closed since March 23, 2020.
It is not unexpected that employees may become ill as COVID-19 continues spreading throughout the community. The HHSA has protocols in place to address this and similar situations involving employees who become ill. These protocols include: asking employees to stay home if they show any symptoms, reporting any symptoms that develop during working hours, asking non-essential employees to work from home, maintaining sufficient social distancing in the workplace, and consistently using excellent hygiene and cleaning practices.
With the office expected to be temporarily closed, those needing services through Child Welfare Services can call (559) 623-0500 and to report suspected child abuse, call 1-800-331-1585.
The Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency is diligent about the protection of patient privacy, in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and for this reason we cannot release any other information about the affected employee. The information released about the positive COVID-19 cases in Tulare County is carefully curated to provide useful information to our community members, while also excluding information that would lead to the identification of affected persons. This is a protection, provided by law, that is extended to everyone.
To reduce and stop the spread of COVID-19 in Tulare County, local public health officials strongly urge everyone to practice both social and physical distancing of six feet or more between persons. Residents should always wear a face mask or covering while in environments where physical distancing is not possible and while in public settings. More importantly, officials urge residents to not participate in social gatherings of any kind, as a large number of the COVID-19 cases in Tulare County stem from contact exposure through gatherings that occurred beyond a single household.
In addition, everyone is encouraged to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer, regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces, and stay home if you are sick or instructed to isolate/quarantine by a medical or public health professional.