Businesses face new restrictions as Kern County slips back to the purple tier

Posted at 4:49 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-16 20:19:40-05

Kern County is back in the purple tier. And for the first time in months daily reported COVID-19 cases have surpassed the 300 marks.

On Monday Kern Public Health announced 301 new cases of COVID-19. This brings the number of cases to 36,919. The highest number of daily cases in recent weeks happened last Monday with 236 cases. There were no new deaths reported which remains at 432 for the county. Close to 18,000 people have recovered from the virus since the pandemic began.

Tracking COVID-19 across the United States

Around the nation, COVID-19 cases are rising in 45 out of 50 states. hose states are reporting upward of 10-percent increases in case rates compared to last week. Nationally there are more than 10.9 million cases and 245,600 deaths in the country according to Johns Hopkins

As a way to slow the spread of the virus, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state was pulling an emergency brake. That means that Kern County was slipping back to the purple tier. 23ABC's Bayan Wang explains what this means for local businesses.

The purple tier is something that Kern County is used to, only having been in the red tier for a little more than a month. But now gyms, restaurants, churches, and other sectors will have to suspend indoor services once again.

"We are now moving backwards, not forwards," said Governor Gavin Newsom. "In the original last week tiered status, you had 13 counties in purple, 22 in red. Today we have 41 counties in purple, 11 in red."


State of California Update: November 16, 2020

Moving backwards is what Kern County and many others are doing after they were placed into the purple tier, the state's most restrictive tier as the COVID-19 case rate has doubled in the last 10 days. The fastest increase California has seen according to Newsom.

Newsom announced tier adjustments a day before the state's regular Tuesday press conference citing that the state is pulling an "emergency brake" and making changes to their tier-based system.

"For example, previously a county would have to fail the metrics for two consecutive weeks in order to be bumped back into the more restrictive tier. That is now changing to just one week," explained Kern County Public Health Director Matt Constantine.


23ABC Interview: Matt Constantine, Kern County Public Health Director

The state has also changed the grace-period given to businesses to comply. Instead of three days of restricting certain business operations that is now 24 hours, according to Constantine.
"That would mean by tomorrow they are asking businesses to comply."

Now businesses like gyms, restaurants, and churches have to halt indoor operations yet again.

Deacon David Rodriguez said the news is disappointing as his church just recently allowed their community back inside.

"I think it's unfortunate especially after the incident this weekend where our governor in fact was out at a private party with other family members outside his inner circle. Yet it seems like religious institutes of all faiths, small mom and pop restaurants, other people are struggling yet we are being pushed back into a more restrictive area."

The In-shape Gym chain in Bakersfield also released a statement to 23ABC News about the changes that read in part: "We are disappointed to see Kern County roll back to the purple tier given it impacts our ability to operate indoors and provide a service that's essential to the health of kern county residents. We need the government to deem exercise at fitness centers as essential so we are allowed to operate in some capacity in every tier."

Newsom also said that the state will be re-examining their tiered based system to see if there are even more changes that they need to make.

Also during that press conference, while the governor was concerned about the backward progress made around the state he said California is prepared.

Gov. Newsom says California prepared for COVID-19 resurgance

If the situation in the state were to worsen Newsom said California has 11 surge facilities ready to roll out. Those facilities can be set up anywhere around the state and take no more than 96 hours to build.

On top of this Newsom said California has more PPE and other supplies than ever before since the pandemic started. There are roughly 180 million N-95 masks in the state, along with millions of more face shields, gloves, and gowns.

When it comes to a COVID-19 vaccine the governor said it's important to distribute it to those with the greatest need.

"The focus is on equitable. The critical nature of making sure that those who are most in need are prioritized in terms of the access and distribution of this vaccine and to make sure it is safe. We put together experts on committees. In fact, the Biden administration, wisely, took one of our safety committee advisors for his national covid recovery plan and that is only good news for California."

In addition to the vaccine and surge facilities, Newsom said Californians need to continue to follow basic health protocols. As many counties moved back into the purple tier it is a reminder to continue social distancing and wearing masks.