KCPH: Kern County fails metric for red tier, could get pushed back into purple tier next week


UPDATE: The Kern County Public Health Services Department said the county needs an estimated 686 additional tests completed per day to avoid an artificial adjustment to its case right.

The department said the county’s current testing rate has increased from 192.5 per 100,000 residents to 197.7 per 100,000 this week. However, testing rates have also increased throughout the state, which has caused the state’s testing median to increase to 272.41 per 100,000 residents.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Kern County is currently on track to being pushed back into the purple “widespread” reopening tier due to a recent rise in COVID-19 cases. 

During this morning’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Kern County Public Health Director Matt Constantine said the state will report today that the county has failed the daily case metric for the red “substantial” tier.

Constantine said the county has an adjusted case rate of 8.9 per 100,000, a large jump from the 6.4 rate announced last week. The testing positivity rate is 5.2 percent and the county has a health equity positivity rate of 6.8 percent, both still meeting the red tier requirements. 

The case rate has to be 7.0 or lower for the county to remain in the red tier. If the data shows next Tuesday that the county failed metrics for the second week in a row, Constantine said the state will push Kern back into the purple tier toward the end of next week, causing businesses to have to shut down. 

Constantine said the change was “not unexpected,” as COVID-19 cases are currently rising across the state, nation and world. If the county slides back into the purple tier, indoor operations will be closed at restaurants and other businesses.

Schools in Kern that have already opened would still be allowed to remain open, he said.

“Many schools made (the) decision to open up and make their plans known,” Constantine said. “By making that decision, that decouples the schools from the county’s metrics.”

However, Constantine said that according to state guidance, schools that have yet to reopen at the time the county reverts back into the purple tier would be required to wait until the county goes back into the red tier to open up.

Most schools in Kern County have already opened to some degree, Constantine said.

“We don’t believe this will impact many school sites,” he said.

Constantine re-emphasized the importance of wearing a mask and other safety measures, even though he acknowledges that people are exhausted from dealing with COVID-19 for most of the year.

“We’re tired of wearing masks, we’re tired of missing our families, but so what?” he said. “We need to do what’s right. We need to use preventative measures. We need to not lose ground. It’s worked. Let’s get through this.”

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