BAKERSFIELD — Kern County is once more in California’s sights after failing to meet one of the state’s COVID-19 requirements under the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” according to the Kern County Department of Public Health.
The countywide case rate, artificially adjusted by the state, stood at 8.9 cases per 100,000 people as of Tuesday, according to the state’s data. The number is up from 6.2 cases per 100,000 a week earlier.
The other metrics — testing positivity and health equity testing positivity — remain at or below state levels, according to Public Health Director Matt Constantine. But those two are rising. As of Tuesday, the testing positivity was at 5.2% (compared to 4.2% last week and the health equity was 6.8% (5.4%) last week.
Constantine told the Kern County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday if the uptick in COVID-19 positive cases continues next week, Kern County may slide back into the purple tier of the state’s blueprint from its current position in the red.
“This is a warning signal to us,” Constantine said.
The county’s rates are artificially adjusted because it also falls below the state’s testing average. While testing has increased in the county significantly, at 192 per 100,000, the state’s has also increased to 272 per 100,000. In order to catch up, Kern County would need to test 680 more people per day.
Kern County’s spike in COVID-19 cases reflects a national trend as hotspots have flared up across the country, including Wyoming, Utah and Texas. As a result, the county has taken measures to increase its staffing in preparation for a new wave of infections.
If the trend continues, Constantine warned, the county will backslide into the purple tier.
“By the end of next week, we could potentially be affected,” Constantine said.
A backslide would require businesses that were allowed to re-open at a reduced capacity, such as restaurants, museums, gyms and churches to shut down their in-door operations again.
“We must remain on the course,” Constantine said. “We’ve done well up to this point.”
Kern isn’t the only county to be hard hit by rising infection rates. Sacramento, Stanislaus and San Diego Counties were forced back into the purple tier on Tuesday, triggering businesses in those areas to shut down. San Francisco, facing its own increase in numbers, ordered bars to stop serving food and close down completely and restaurants to stop serving in-doors.
“As our local case rate has recently increased and with the holiday season approaching, Public Health urges our community to take personal responsibility and practice healthy habits that include wearing a mask in public, washing your hands regularly, keeping at least six feet of physical distance when in public, and limiting mixing with people you don’t live with,” Public Health said in a news release on Tuesday. “According to the California Department of Public Health, the risk of transmission of COVID-19 significantly increases as more people from different households interact, and when the interaction is closer in proximity and longer in duration.“