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Kern County unveils new pandemic plan

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California Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a new plan in the battle against COVID-19, and Kern County is joining the fight.

Newsom’s pandemic plan is called the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Kern County officials held a public health briefing to talk about what the new pandemic rules mean for your community.

The pandemic plan places each county into one of four risk levels: widespread, substantial, moderate and minimal.

Counties must remain in a tier for at least three weeks before moving forward into the next tier. Kern County is listed as “widespread,” and must cut its daily case numbers in half to reach a lower pandemic risk tier.

Under this designation, restaurants and bars cannot open indoors. Gyms remain closed, and schools cannot have in-person classes until the county hits the next lowest category: substantial, known as code red.

Each risk level comes with its own unique set of restrictions. The state and county governments intend to make reopening a “slow and stringent” process.

87 percent of people in California live in areas marked as code purple. In Kern County that means having over 63 new cases of COVID-19 per day. Less than 0.1 percent of California counties qualify for the lowest risk level.

The state wants every county to reach minimal risk. When that happens, businesses like bars, gyms and churches can open at half capacity. It will likely take months for Kern County to reach that point. Director of Public Health Matthew Constantine says residents need to stay safe and wear masks to see progress.

“The new state system though now puts us in charge of our own destiny,” he said. “‘Cause if we can move those numbers down further that impacts our ability to open up businesses.

Kern County officials are urging residents to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. The state launched a website so readers can see which types of businesses are currently open. Visit covid19.ca.gov for more information.

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