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Flu cases widespread across the state

HANFORD — In California and throughout the United States, flu activity has increased significantly over recent weeks, with influenza viruses predominating this season, according to the Kings County Public Health Department.

According to the California Department of Public Health, there have been nearly 100 flu-related deaths in the state this flu season, which runs from October through May. The peak of flu season is usually in February, but officials said the number of flu cases is already reaching numbers close to last year’s peak.

Elizabeth Gazarek, Kings County public health information officer, said there has been one reported flu-related death in Kings County this flu season.

Dr. Michael Boulton, medical director of the emergency department and chair of the emergency medicine service line at Adventist Central Valley Network, said this has been one of the busiest and most widespread flu seasons he has seen.

Boulton said people aren’t becoming sicker or experiencing more severe symptoms, there are just more people who are getting sick this season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California is one of the 39 states that have experienced widespread flu-like illnesses.

“We’ve seen an increased number and an increased volume of complicated influenza cases,” Boulton said.

Boulton couldn’t estimate the number of flu cases the health network has seen this season, but did say they began running out of testing supplies to be able to verify if patients had the flu.

According to the state Department of Health, people who are at high risk for serious flu-related complications that can lead to hospitalization and even death include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People who have certain underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

The common cold and flu share certain symptoms, like upper respiratory problems, runny nose, sore throat and cough; but Boulton said the flu comes with a high fever of usually around 102-104 degrees, fatigue, severe body aches and headaches. He said children can also experience nausea and vomiting.

Boulton said the flu spread by direct contact with large droplets of secretion from people who shed the virus through coughing and sneezing. He said someone can stay contagious for five to six days.

He said the best course of action to prevent yourself from getting the flu is to stay away from others who are coughing and sneezing, wash your hands thoroughly and often and avoid touching your eyes and nose.

Public Health officials encourage everyone to get their flu shot and said it’s not too late if you still haven’t received a vaccination.

Boulton said the CDC studies emerging influenza strains and pick three or four strains that are most prominent for the vaccine. This flu season’s vaccine is only about 30-40 percent effective due to the strains mutating and evolving, he said.

Even if vaccine effectiveness to prevent disease is limited, health officials said immunization can reduce illness, and prevent hospitalization and death due to influenza.

At this time, the Kings County Health Department recommends all persons 6 months and older get vaccinated if they have not done so already.

Boulton said even if someone is sick, they should still talk to their doctor about getting the vaccine because it could help prevent them from spreading the disease further.

If you do get sick and aren’t at high risk for complications, Boulton encourages staying home from work, getting rest, drinking a lot of fluids and taking acetaminophen, which is a pain reliever and fever reducer. He also said to cover your mouth when you sneeze and cough to avoid spreading the illness.

Truck hits parked cars downtown

HANFORD — Three vehicles are now wrecked after a truck rammed into parked cars in downtown Hanford for unknown reasons, Hanford Police Department officials said.

On Tuesday just after 10:30 a.m., traffic officers said they responded to a multiple vehicle collision in the area of Seventh and Irwin streets.

During the investigation, officers determined that a 76-year-old man from Caruthers was driving a white GMC pickup traveling east on Seventh Street crossing Irwin Street.

Police said for unknown reasons that are still being investigated, the man’s truck drifted to the right and collided with three unoccupied parked cars on Seventh Street.

No one was injured in this collision; however, police officials said three of the four vehicles involved are most likely totaled.

Authorities said it does not appear that alcohol or drugs were a factor in this collision.

Fox screens '80s classic 'The Breakfast Club'

Throw your horoscope book away and delete your therapist’s number from your phone. The best way to know who you are and where you’re going is by determining which “Breakfast Club” character you are.

The classic teen comedy/drama screens at the Hanford Fox Theater at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The film, wherein a seemingly-disparate group of high schoolers are stuck in detention for a day, helped launch careers of the entire cast.

The film stars Emelio Estevez as the jock, Judd Nelson as the tough rebel, Molly Ringwald as the preppie rich girl and Ally Sheedy and Anthony Michael Hall as the goth outcast and the nerd, respectively.

Over the course of the film, the students are challenged by the discovery that their preconceived notions about the others may not be entirely accurate.

For years, the movie has served as a personality litmus test. “You’re such a Judd Nelson,” could be an accurate personality assessment long before Buzzfeed trafficked in daily quizzes asking which Harry Potter house you belong in or which cast member of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” you are.

“When I was younger, I thought Judd Nelson was hilarious. He steals the movie,” said Hanford Throwback Films’ programmer Zach Rodriguez.

The Hanford Fox Throwback Films series has been bringing classic and underrated films from yester-year back to the downtown screen. Upcoming films include “Friday the 13th Part 2,” “The Lion King” and “Saturday Night Fever,” which screens Feb. 24.

“All the movies [screened] in February were by request,” Rodriguez says. “We’ve had many requests for ‘The Breakfast Club’ and it’s a favorite of mine.”

Originally released in 1985, the film was one in a long string of teen-oriented films mixing comedy and drama that was a hit for writer/director John Hughes.

Hughes is responsible for a slew of movies that one might show aliens that showed up what America in the 1980s was like. He wrote, directed — or both — movies like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Weird Science” and “Home Alone.”

Rodriguez took a trip down memory lane in 2016 when he attended a screening of the film at the Visalia Fox Theater with his older brother and sisters.

“The movie is a big part of my childhood,” Rodriguez said. “I watched that movie because of my older siblings. When I was 9 or 10, I knew I shouldn’t have been watching it. It was a little lewd, but so funny.”


Local author Garrett K. Smith's book "The Destiny of Dragons" is shown. The author will appear at the Hanford-Visalia Comic Con this weekend.