Kern County bars will be required to close once more under a new mandate issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday.

The order affects seven counties, including Kern, after they were on a list of monitored countries that saw a spike of the novel coronavirus over a 14-day consecutive period, according to a news release.

According to state health officials, COVID-19 community spread continues to be concern statewide, with a number of Southern California counties included. Fresno, Kings, Los Angeles and Tulare counties are also on a list that require bars to close. In addition, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Stanislaus counties are recommended to close their bars.

The governor's news release states that bars are social environments where groups of people mix. In these environments alcohol consumption reduces inhibition and impairs judgment, leading to reduced compliance with recommended core personal protective measures, such as the mandatory use of face coverings and the practice of social and physical distancing.

Bars are generally louder environments requiring raised voices leading to the greater projection of droplets. These factors present a higher likelihood of transmission of COVID-19 within groups, between groups, and among the workforce.

On Monday, June 29, Kern Public Health Services director Matt Constantine on Monday stated that the county has prepared a list of facilities that fall under Newsom's new mandate and will release it.

"We will be sending a list to those facilities to ask them to comply," Constantine said. "We've identified 70 bars that meet the requirements to close completely. There others where the bars within restaurant will need to limits their service."

Constantine added the county was not consulted with the decision and will be asking the state how it will enforce the updated mandate.

"Locally, we have not seen outbreaks locally so we are anxious to talk to the state about that," Constantine said. "We are using the original guidance document that came out a month ago that limited bars service."

As to enforcing the governor's rules, Constantine said the county will continue to advise businesses affected to comply with new rules and ask that they follow the governor's mandate in an effort to flatten the COVID-19 curve.

He stressed that the state is in charge right at the moment; the state, he said, has on occasion done enforcement and could utilize its pull through the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

"COVDID-19 is still a concern for us and we don't want to lose any progress," he said.

Since Kern County entered the third stage of reopening in late May, it saw a spike in positive COVID-19 cases, as reported by Kern County Public Health Services. The county's numbers reflect a statewide trend as other counties opened up.

Earlier in June, Newsom issued a mandate requiring residents to wear face coverings in most public settings, especially those where social distancing was not possible.

Sunday, June 28, saw a record spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases for Kern County, reporting 138 new coronavirus cases; as of Sunday and Monday there were three additional deaths. This brings the total number of deaths to 68, and overall number of Kern County positive cases to 4,478 since testing began in March. Of those, 3,178 have recovered.

Those include 23 in California City (13 recovered); 18 in Mojave (15 recovered); three cases reported in Edwards (no reported recoveries); 55 cases in Rosamond (43 recovered); 37 in Tehachapi (30 recovered); and two cases in Boron, both recovered.

Kern Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop said so far the county has tested at 6% of its population, below the state's 8%. However, other factors keep the county on the watch list.

Alsop the biggest concern was continuing to watch test rates and ensure that Kern County's hospitals do not reach capacity and need to execute surge procedures, or that Kern County will need to open up an alternative hospital site for all non-COVID-19 patients to alleviate hospitalization rates.

We need to be vigilant and continue to practice all the things the state and federal health officials have talked about," Alsop said. "We want our economy to remain open and as many businesses to remain open while operating under the guidelines."

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