Kern County’s success in lowering novel coronavirus benchmarks could signal a shift into the red tier of California’s four-stage reopening on Tuesday, Oct. 13 — if it continues to maintain that trend.

Kern County Assistant Public Health Director Brynn Carrigan provided the news to the county Board of Supervisors during its Tuesday meeting. 

If the county continues to maintain its trend, a shift into the red tier means a limited return to in-door restaurant dining, church services and expansion of retail stores.

Restaurants would have to limit dining to 25% of its capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. The same amount would apply to churches and houses of worship. Retail places could increase its capacity from 25% to 50% with a shift into the red tier.

Movie theaters, gyms and personal services could also be allowed to re-open indoors.

Bars that don’t serve meals will remain closed, per Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ongoing mandate.

Kern County Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner saw the decrease as something achieved by the community.

“The numbers are bearing the fruits of not just the efforts of this board, but also the community. The community has really stepped up and recognized that this disease continues to be transmitted in our social circles,” Scrivener said at Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting. “This isn’t something that is being transmitted widespread through our businesses. It really comes down to personal responsibility.”

California Department of Public Health updates its metrics on counties every Tuesday. On Oct. 6, Kern County’s case rate was 5.5 new cases per 100,000 people, despite a state-created artificial increase attributed to the county’s average number of tests being lower than the state average.

Kern’s positivity rate was 4.7% and health equity rate placed at 6.2%.

Counties needing to move into the red tier need to keep their seven-day period of case rates below 7 new cases per 100,000; testing positivity rate must be below 8% and its metric for social inequity, which measures the bottom 25% of the census tract, must also fall below 8%, according to the state.

Numbers reported by the state every Tuesday are based on a seven-day lag.

However, should the county’s COVID-19 metrics worsen, the county could find itself backsliding back into a purple tier, forcing restaurants, gyms and churches to return to outdoor-only services.


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