Kern County venues prepare for large crowds during COVID-19 surge


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — COVID-19 is ripping through Kern County.

“Over the past few weeks, basically the past month, the COVID-19 cases have been ramping up in Kern County,” Adventist Health medical chair Jonathan Dario said. “Every hospital is feeling the surge.”

319 COVID patients lie in Kern County public hospitals, 58 in the ICU — both totals nearly double what they were a month ago. Available ICU beds have also nearly halved.

It’s a challenging time for Bakersfield’s World Records to welcome its first musical guest in a year and a half, but owner Pat Evans wants to ensure concertgoers’ safety.

“We’re all trying to get live music going. And it doesn’t get going if people are coming into the theaters and getting sick,” Evans said.

World Records will require guests to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test before they see blues guitarist Tab Benoit next Friday.

“We don’t have a mask requirement, we are strongly encouraging people to wear an effective mask so that they won’t take a chance at breathing in the virus,” Evans said.

Tickets for the event are only half-sold, showing public concern for both the virus and the precautions taken against it.

“This should be sold out,” Evans said. “And it’s not, and we all know why. On one hand, people don’t want to get vaccinated. Even more, there are greater numbers of people who just aren’t comfortable coming into a theater yet.”

As the Kern County Fair gets ready to open its gates in two weeks, 17’s Alex Fisher spoke to director David Torres. He has an eye on the virus as well.

“We’re looking at what Kern County Public Health is doing here, they’re doing a tremendous job, but it’s up to the individual to take that added step,” Torres said.

The fair won’t require proof of vaccinations or negative COVID tests, but organizers are putting up signs recommending masking and promoting social distancing.

“Basically what they’re going to do is they’re going to bring less rides, so that there can be much more social distancing, instead of standing close in line for rides,” Torres said.

Indoors or outdoors, mass gatherings are drawing extra scrutiny and extra precaution in Bakersfield.

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