BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — It’s a double edge sword for COVID milestones Tuesday. The United States reached a grim number of deaths from the virus. But it also marks a year since the first person in California got their first dose of the vaccine.
Where does Kern County stand with COVID-19 vaccines, cases, and hospitalizations across the state and county?
Over 800,000 have lost their lives to COVID-19 across the U.S. In California, nearly 75,000 people have died and in Kern County over 1,800 have died.
But experts say the biggest tool against this virus is vaccinations and it’s been a year since the first dose was given in California.
“We want to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the first shot in a California arm. Since then, 61.5 million doses. 200,000 booster doses per day right now. We are doing tremendous compared to the rest of the nation with the lowest COVID death rate per capita of large states,” said Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, the deputy director, and chief equity officer for the California Department of Public Health.
In Kern County, the first vaccine was administered on December 17th to medical professionals at Kern Medical. Since then, the county has given out nearly 990,000 vaccines. That’s about 50.9-percent of the eligible population over 5, being fully vaccinated and about 57.6-percent being partially vaccinated according to Kern Public Health.
“Over 95,900 doses have been identified as either an additional dose for immunocompromised or a booster dose. Meaning that 22% of our fully vaccinated population is boosted,” said Kern County Department of Public Health Director Brynn Carrigan.
But, officials statewide said since Thanksgiving, COVID cases have risen by nearly 47-percent and hospitalizations by about 14-percent.
“So, we’re not surprised to see an increase in cases and hospitalizations," said Dr. Radhakrishna. "In fact, we anticipate some more leading into a winter surge.”
That’s why the state implemented the indoor mask mandate.
But, Dr. Radhakrishna added that it's only useful if people follow the guidelines.
“You don’t wear your seatbelt because the sheriff may enforce or because it’s the law necessarily. You do it to protect your health and that of your passenger. The same is true of masks.”
Dr. Radhkrishna said this temporary mandate is especially important during the winter with more Californias gathering and traveling.
“The mask mandate is life-saving. Hospital capacity preserving. Inconvenient and something we wouldn’t do unless we thought it was absolutely necessary.”
And even with the omicron variant already detected in California and increasing across the country, Dr. Radhakrishna said we have more ways to protect ourselves now with vaccines, boosters, and expanded testing.
“People should be more confident than ever with the tools in our toolbox, as long as they’re using them.”
According to Kern Public Health, there are three potential models for our COVID cases in Kern County. According to the best-case scenario, hospitalizations bottom out by May next year. In the moderate case scenario, peaking with 119 cases on March 4th and 114 hospitalizations on March 14th. And the worst-case scenario, over 1,00 cases on Feb 25th and over 740 hospitalizations on March 3rd.