Vaccines expected to arrive in Kern County by end of the week, medical leaders say


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The first shipment of Pfizer vaccines have been rolled out across the United States, but they have not yet arrived in Kern County.

During a virtual COVID-19 update Wednesday, Dignity Health Central California Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hemmal Kothary said the CA Department of Public Health anticipates it could be at least another day until the 5,850 vaccine doses arrive.

“We are hoping we’ll get it tomorrow, if not by friday, and as soon as we get it, we’ll start vaccinating our population at highest risk,” he said.

For the second straight day, 17 News reached out to the CA Dept. of Public Health to ask why the vaccines have not yet arrived. As of Wednesday afternoon, the department said it was working to provide a statement.

This, as kern hospitals are filling up.

“As far ICUs are concerned we all — all hospitals in Kern County — continue to see an increase in patients over the last or so. We’re seeing that spike,” said Ken Keller, CEO and president at Memorial Hospital.

Last week, Memorial Hospital averaged roughly 48 patients per day, but this week that figure is closer to 70, according to Keller.

Mercy hospital is treating 72 COVID-19 positive patients, and another 200 patients believed to have the virus. The hospital is now out of icu beds. Currently treating 32 icu-level patients, the hospital has 28 ICU beds. Four ICU-level patients are receiving care in the emergency departments at Mercy Downtown and Southwest hospital.

“The number of patients that we’re seeing right now is a little bit more than the July-August timeframe, but what concerns us now is the steepness of the curve is dramatically more than the July timeframe,” Keller said.

Meantime, Dignity Health announced it is enacting a plan to voluntarily test employees on a weekly basis.

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