News23ABC In-Depth


Kern Public Health gives latest COVID updates as local hospitals fill up

Posted: 5:33 PM, Sep 01, 2021
Updated: 2021-09-01 20:33:49-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — On Wednesday, Kern County saw a larger jump in COVID-19 cases. Public health reported 693 new cases and eight new deaths.

There were no new delta variant cases reported but the strain continues to be the most prominent variant in Kern County. More than 125,000 residents have tested positive for the virus since the start of the pandemic last year.

To better understand these numbers 23ABC is taking an in-depth look at how COVID-19 cases are affecting different age groups in Kern County. According to public health more 18 to 49-year-olds tested positive for COVID-19 compared to any other age group with more than 75,000 cases.

Those 65 and older have had the least number of cases with a little more than 11,000 since the start of the pandemic last year. More than 16,000 people 17 years and younger tested positive along with more than 22,000 50 to 64-year-olds.

The long Labor Day weekend is coming up and with that are more concerns about the spread of COVID in the county. Even without the concerns of a holiday, hospitals in Bakersfield said they are already stretched and filling up quickly.

“This is our heaviest week yet, and we are in the low 90’s of COVID patients at Mercy Hospital, which is quickly coming up to where we were in January, February. So, we’ve blown past last summer with our volume of COVID patients and now we are creeping up on where we were in January, February,” Bruce Peters.

Bruce Peters at Mercy Hospital said that this surge is younger with the average age of patients being about 10-15 years lower than before, but ICU numbers are lower than before as well.

“We have a little lesser percentage in the ICU than we did in the last surge, which is good because that’s where we are struggling with our staffing in particular,” said Peters.

He added that even though they are low on staff, the state has been helping with giving them, nurses and critical staff.

“We have been able to open more beds since we got help from the state. We got some state travelers last week. We got some Monday we’re going to get two more next Monday which isn’t much, but everybody helps at this point,” said Peters.

Ken Keller with Memorial Hospitals said that about one-third of their patients at his hospital are infected with COVID.

“Our census at midnight was 240 people of those 240 people, we had 72 that are COVID positive,” said Keller.

Keller said that to keep up with the rising demand, they are trying to focus on the patients they do have and care for the emergency ones.

“we’re going to suspend elective and non-emergency procedures that require an overnight stay, or that require admission to the hospital, starting next week,” said Keller.

Officials said, according to predictive modeling, the peak for cases is supposed to be within the next two weeks and peaks for hospitalizations should follow in about two weeks after that. So, with hospitals filling up fast about a month before the peak, kern county public health says they do have emergency resources in the plan but haven’t had to use them yet.

“If needed, we have our alternate care site which we could stand up if our hospitals became too impacted and overflowing. We have not had to stand it up in the past even in our worst surge in the wintertime, but we stand ready and that’s a resource,” said Michelle Corson Public Relations Officer, Kern County Public Health.