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County leaders request Newsom change criteria to accelerate opening businesses

Newsom
Posted at 12:06 PM, May 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-16 15:38:14-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Kern County officials have asked Governor Gavin Newsom to change the criteria that would allow the county to accelerate the opening of businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter addressed to the Governor, the county says its Public Health department and 10 hospitals are in unanimous agreement that Kern County is ready to accelerate the opening of its businesses and sectors. But there are two state criterias in the way. State guidelines say there needs to be no more than 1 case per 10,000 residents within the past 14 days, and no deaths in 14 days.

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The letter says the first criteria conflicts with other criteria that requires expanded testing. The county says expanded testing will likely result in the amount of positive cases to increase in the immediate future, and many of those that test positive “will be mild or asymptomatic and will not require medical attention.”

Local leaders and doctors say a more accurate depiction of the county’s readiness would be a criteria based on the hospitalization rate per 10,000 residents or per the total number of positive cases.

Kern officials say the second criteria is being skewed by the outbreak at skilled nursing facilities like the Kingston Healthcare Center. They said the county’s death rate should be distinguished from deaths at those facilities.

Over two dozen people signed the letter, including leaders at Adventist Health, Good Samaritan Hospital, Bakersfield Heart Hospital, Kern County Hospital Authority and Dignity Health.

County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop, Public Health Director Matt Constantine and Public Health Officer Christopher Lyon also signed the letter.