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Supervisors express frustrations over new COVID-19 guidelines

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The board of supervisors Tuesday addressed new state requirements for reopening schools and businesses.

Kern’s unadjusted COVID case rate stood at 6.7 per 100,000 people as of Tuesday morning, better than the state threshold of 7 per 100,000 people. However, as Kern’s testing rate average is lower than the state’s average, the Newsom administration is artificially adjusting Kern’s case rate to 7.5 per 100,000 people — a figure that does not meet threshold to move into the next tier.

Supervisors said they felt the adjustment unfairly penalizes Kern County.

“When the governor, continues to change the goalposts on us, move the metrics, it gives us a sense of frustration in feeling defeated that we will never get out of this and keep changing the rules,” said 2nd District Supervisor Zack Scrivner.

3rd District Supervisor Mike Maggard echoed a similar sentiment. “It just points out the complete arbitrary nature and unfairness of the process,” Maggard said. “[Newsom]is causing us to be measured by circumstances beyond our control, and he knows — the governor knows — they are beyond our control.”

The county would need to test 607 more people per day for the state to stop inflating the numbers, per Kern County Public Health Director Matt Constantine. Constantine said the county has the capacity to test more than 600 additional people per day, but he believes the task will not be easy due to low testing demand.

“It will be a significant challenge for us to meet it,” he said.

On top of that, Constantine said there is one new state-directed metric that Kern County must meet before the Golden Empire can be approved into the next tier. Termed the “health equity metric,” it will divide the county into census tracts. The county must demonstrate an improvement in tracts that have higher testing positivity rates; Furthermore, the positivity rate in the areas performing the best must not differ from the lowest-performing areas by more than one percent. The county will need to reduce the gap by at least 10 percent in the next six weeks in order to move to the next classification.

Supervisors also voted unanimously 4-0 with one abstention (Supervisor Leticia Perez was absent) Tuesday to draft a letter to the governor, asking him to reconsider the new guidelines.

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