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Model: Peak in Kern hospitalizations could be months out if social distancing does not improve

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — One model suggests it could be roughly five months until Kern County could reaches its peak in hospitalizations unless social distancing improves.

As it stands now, 21 positive COVID patients — or roughly 3 percent of those tested in Kern — are undergoing treatment in local hospitals. But could that number increase?

“A lot of it is dependent on our social distancing work,” Matthew Constantine, director of Kern County Public Health Services, said on Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting.

He spoke just before supervisors approved $2 million to fund a temporary field hospital at the Kern County Fairgrounds. Referred to as an alternative care site, would be used to treat coronavirus patients if Kern hospitals go more than 40 percent over their limits.

Constantine noted if people in Kern County social distance 40 percent of the time, one statewide model suggests the Golden Empire could still be months away from a peak in hospitalizations.

“As it stands now at 40 percent, we will see a peak in early October where we will far exceed — probably three times — our hospital bed capacity. That’s at 40 percent using the models they’ve given us,” he said.

However, the model indicates if we improve our social distancing by 10 percent, the field hospital will not be needed, per Constantine.

“If we increase social distancing to 50 percent, meaning half the time you take efforts to distance yourself, those numbers become manageable, and in fact, they stay within the limits of the hospital as they stand today.”

Supervisors were openly skeptical of the estimates, but constantine told them not preparing would be catistrophic if the estimates proved accurate and the county was not prepared. That prompted supervisors to budget the $2 million for the fairgrounds site.

Constantine noted this is just one model, but he also said Kern County Public Health Department is taking it seriously. He says the main takeaway for Kern: Continue social distancing.

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