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Supervisors approve resolution demanding Gov. Newsom provide clarity, consistency in county reopening metrics

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Kern County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday demanding that Gov. Gavin Newsom provide clarity and consistency in his directives to counties regarding COVID-19. 

The resolution asks for Newsom to work more closely with counties in addressing COVID-19 and asks that the governor refrain from penalizing counties for not meeting state average testing rates. Instead, the resolution urges the governor to base action on hospital capacity. 

“Kern County demands that California counties be judged simple, consistent, achievable, and measurable objectives related to slowing the spread of COVID-19,” the resolution says.

County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop said the resolution will be sent soon in a letter to Gov. Newsom’s office.

The resolution was requested by the board last week out of frustration with changes to the state’s metrics for determining whether counties can move into the next tier of reopening. 

While the county’s case rate is below the 7 percent threshold required to move into the next tier, the state has been adjusting the rate up because the amount of people being tested in Kern County is below the state average, preventing the county from moving forward with reopening. 

“This new criteria unnecessarily burdens our residents, parents and children, further slowing business and school reopening(s), and it unnecessarily and arbitrarily penalizes counties who have little to no control over voluntary and individual decision-making related to COVID-19,” the resolution states. 

As of Tuesday, Kern County Public Health Director Matt Constantine said the county has an adjusted case rate of 6.9 percent, just below the state threshold. This would make the county eligible to move into the next stage of reopening. 

However, Constantine said the state won’t reassess Kern’s case rate until next Tuesday. If cases rise in the meantime and the county rate rises by the time the county is assessed, the county may not be able to begin the process of moving forward into the next tier.

Even if the adjusted county rate stays below 7 percent, Constantine said the county would need to maintain it for 14 days before being able to move into the next tier, and that would start as early as next Tuesday. 

“All indications are we are tending downward and very close to meeting the red tier so more businesses can open,” he said.

The California Department of Public Health released the following statement last week:

“The updated adjustment methodology takes into account both low and high testing volume (for the initial tier assignments, adjustments were only made for higher test volume).

Ensuring adequate testing volume remains critical to case identification and interruption of disease transmission, particularly in communities with high test positivity, CDPH made the decision to update the adjustment scale to better reflect variations in case rates relevant to testing volume across counties and refined this after local health department feedback.

More information on the methodology and the adjustment factors applied can be found on the CDPH website here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/COVID19CountyMonitoringOverview.aspx

Case rate will be determined using confirmed (by PCR) tests and will not include state and federal inmate cases. New cases/100,000 population per day calculated as 7-day average (total positive tests over 7 days/total conclusive results over the same period). This calculation is lagged by 7 days. Case rates include an adjustment factor for counties that are testing above the state average rate. The case rate is adjusted downwards in a graduated fashion, with a maximum adjustment at twice the State average testing rate.

The adjustment factors are explained here: Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The activity and business tiers are here: Blueprint Activity and Business Tiers.

In terms of communication with our county partners, the California Department of Public Health has multiple calls with county health officers and executives weekly. We are committed to communicating processes and policies changes to our local partners with as much advance notices as possible.”

Alsop said he hopes to be in touch with the governor’s staff in the coming weeks about this issue.”

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