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Health officials say family gatherings cause the most significant virus spread in Kern County

Posted at 4:24 PM, Nov 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 20:17:20-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The state’s new stay-at-home order will go into effect Saturday night, aiming to limit non-essential movement and business for California counties in the purple tier, including Kern. But do local health officials think the new order will do anything to slow the virus’s spread in the county?

Kern Public Health says the way they figure out what may, or may not slow the spread of the virus, is contact tracing. Their contact tracers often work to track down hundreds of people per day, and they have an answer.

“What the contact tracers find is that small family gatherings generally are more of the cause than anything else," said Public Health Director Matt Constantine.
Constantine says their contract tracers are seeing the same trend every day.

“We find the common source of exposure is households. Once we reach one family member, we realize there are others that shared a meal," he said.

Constantine underlined the importance of being vigilant about COVID-19, even in situations that you might not normally think to, like going to visit family. He says family members not wearing masks around one another, oftentimes, can be the main culprit.

“It’s hard to remember to wear your mask around your family members. These are people you love, and you want to talk to and sit close to," he said.

The state, on Thursday, saying the new stay-at-home order being implemented this weekend is largely a result of them trying to curb social gatherings. Officials say activities conducted during the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. are often non-essential and more likely related to social activities. So, does Constantine believe the new order will be effective in Kern?

“Any effort to affect how the disease is spread is welcomed. But I do acknowledge that this presents another challenge for our community to try to follow," he said.

That’s on top of the challenges many businesses are facing since Kern regressed to the purple tier this week. County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop citing the county’s contact tracing as the reason he believes the regression doesn’t make sense.

“Contact tracing shows no evidence that restaurants, gyms, churches or schools are contributing to significant spread in our community," Alsop said.