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Alsop expresses additional frustration with state over reopening guidelines

Coronavirus

BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. (KGET) — Kern County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop expressed additional frustration with the state Thursday, arguing the Newsom administration is making it more difficult for Kern County to advance to the next tier that would allow more businesses and possibly schools to reopen.

At the weekly press briefing Thursday, Alsop said Kern’s unadjusted COVID case rate meets the state’s criteria to move into the next phase for reopening, but added that the state is inflating Kern’s case rate because the county is not testing at or above the state average. Alsop brought up similar concerns at last week’s briefing.

As of Tuesday morning, the unadjusted Kern case rate stood at 6.7 per 100,000 people, better than the state threshold of less than 7 per 100,000 people. However, the adjustment from the state puts the county case rate at 7.5 per 100,000 people; the figure falls above the state threshold, meaning Kern County does not qualify to move into the next phase for reopening. In fact, Kern County would need to test an additional 607 people every day to get the state to stop inflating the county rate.

Additionally, the state has not counted 8,600 COVID tests administered at the federally-managed COVID test site at the Kern County Fairgrounds, per Alsop. The labs sent the tests manually — not electronically — which is why the state did not count them in the system, according to Kern County Lead Epidiomlogist Kim Hernandez. Hernandez said the county is working with the state to solve the issue.

Alsop believes the state is not treating Kern Fairly.

“This is completely unacceptable,” he said. “It is unfair to our residents, businesses, and schools. The way our overall testing rates are being calculated needs to get fixed. I believe it’s an easy fix.”

He said the county is “asking the governor to look into it, engage with his staff, [and] order it gets fixed immediately given the importance placed on testing.”

The California Department of Public Health released the following statement:

“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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