COVID19 graphic

CALIFORNIA CITY —  A month ago, California City’s COVID-19 total case count hovered around 150, among the lowest in East Kern’s major population areas. 

An update from Kern County Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard on Wednesday, Dec. 16 revealed that the recent surge has impacted even the eastern side of the county.

California City’s numbers ticked up to 649  total cases since March:  517 active cases, 90 people have recovered and 42 presumed recovered.

Mojave’s total case count as of Dec. 16 stood at 140: 91 active cases, 33 recovered and 16 presumed recovered.

Rosamond had 813 total cases: 513 active cases, 176 people who have recovered and 124 presumed recovered:

Boron reported 31 total cases: 21 active cases, eight people who have recovered and four presumed recovered.

For the two zip codes covering Edwards (93523 and 93524), there have been 32 total cases: 14 active cases, 11 having since recovered and 7 presumed recovered. 

The Greater Tehachapi area (93561 zip code) had the highest number of total cases in East Kern at 2,022: 981 active cases, 829 people who have recovered, and 212 presumed recovered.

In the last few weeks, Kern County has reported numerous daily new cases, with Tuesday, Dec. 5 being the highest at more than 2,000 new cases. Of those new cases, more than 600 cases came from the county’s prisons. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California City Correctional Facility had 358 inmates with COVID-19, including 342 who had tested positive within the last 14 days; CAC reported 68 active cases among employees, including 58 in the last 14 days. California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi reported 173 inmate cases, including 164 who tested positive in the last 14 days; for employees, CCI reported 134 active cases (126 new cases in the past 14 days).

The total count for Kern County stood at 54,681 total cases reported since March, including 19,358 people who have since recovered. The virus has claimed 470 lives in Kern County.

According to an update provided by Kern County Public Health Services Director Matt Constantine, the county wasn’t fairing well on the state’s COVID-19 metrics. The testing positivity rate stood at 16.9%, over twice the level considered “widespread.” There were 66.3 new cases per 100,000 residents being identified every day.

“Those numbers are concerning. They are clearly very high,” “Those numbers are concerning. They are clearly very high. We are a factor of five or six off of where we want to be when we were in the red tier,” Constantine said during a Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday. “We are a factor of five or six off of where we want to be when we were in the red tier.”

The state determines the status of a county’s ability to reopen based on a four-colored tier system. Kern remains staunchly in the purple, along with the rest of the San Joaquin Valley region. Due to the county and region’s low intensive care unit bed capacity, the county remains under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent stay-at-home order.

On Dec. 15, there were 284 Kern County patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 61 people in ICU beds. There were only 20 ICU beds reported available.

Constantine said the county’s hospitals remain capable of handling the spike in cases.

“They manage daily crises every day. They have big traffic accidents. They have a number of family members that get sick,” Constantine said. They are good at this. They are really good at figuring out how best to serve the public.”

Still, the board of supervisors have implemented additional measures, including extending a contract with RightSourcing Inc. through March 31, 2021. The contract allows as much as 88 nurses to staff Kern County hospitals during a shortage.

Some hospitals are taking advantage of that, according to Constantine. 

“We have recognized early on in the county that staffing was probably our area that we needed to focus on the most, and specifically ICU nurses was the area of weakness,” he said.

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