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Are Kern County residents at a higher risk of COVID-19?

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – So far our numbers of reported cases remain below those of other cities in the state, but there are high rates of respiratory diseases in Kern County. Could that paint a different picture of the number of local causes in the weeks to come?

According to medical experts, COVID-19 patients with certain underlying conditions are more likely to end up in the ICU. 

“Those individuals who have COPD or asthma are at risk for getting adverse results from coronavirus,” said Dr. Royce Johnson, chief of infectious diseases at Kern Medical.

Dr. Johnson says these patients should be taking extra precautions.

“They should  definitely be home and have other people do their shopping,” said Johnson.

According to the California Department of Public Health, Kern County has the second-highest percentage of asthma prevalence in the state. Numbers also show chronic lower respiratory disease to be common in our county.

So are Kern County residents the most vulnerable in the state?

“The majority of the people in the valley are not at higher risk as compared to other people in other places,” said Dr. Johnson. The virus is an equal opportunity for everyone. the outcomes are largely determined by differences in immune systems.”

In fact, Dr. Johnson says the number of cases reported in our county compared to others in the state may show an advantage. 

“Since the virus is arriving here later than other places, if we practice the social distancing well we’ll have a flatter curve,” said Dr. Johnson. “I do think this will be a bad week, but hopefully we don’t get to a place like New York.”

His recommends:

“Stay home, stay more than 6 feet apart, consider wearing a mask in public and wash your hands,” said Dr.Johnson.

While Dr. Johnson says patients with COPD and asthma should take extra precautions, those who have had valley fever and are now over it should not worry. He recommends they follow the guidelines being recommended to the general public. 

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