Kern County Public Health Services announces local health emergency

Coronavirus Kern County
Posted at 10:19 AM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 14:44:36-04

Tthe Kern County Public Health Services announced they had declared a local health emergency Monday morning. This allows for implementing plans and resources for health care needs. The Kern County Board of Supervisors will need to approve it Tuesday.

As of Monday morning, Public Health said in Kern County there are 59 positive cases, 1005 negative tests, and 930 tests pending.

Public Health also announced that there are 15 trailers heading to Kern County to assist with homeless individuals who are showing symptoms of COVID-19. These trailers will be set up at the fairgrounds.

Kern Medical CEO Russell Judd said while testing the homeless population, they will determine each individual's situation to determine who needs assistance isolating.

Judd said they are working to keep their workforce healthy. He said all the hospitals have teamed up to make sure their workforce is protected. He also added that they are working a plan so that their hospitals can accept 40% more patients than normal. "We will be prepared and we will be able to care for the needs of our community on the healthcare front," said Judd.

Judd said anyone who has tested positive or is showing symptoms of the virus should be isolated to stop the potential spread.

When it comes to childbirth, Judd said Kern Medical will allow a patient to have their partner present. People with someone in pediatrics are also allowed to have a visitor.

Kern County spokesperson Ryan Alsop reminded everyone that county offices are closed but the public can go to the county website to see all the services still available. He said residents throughout the county who do not have access to the internet and need it can go to a local library branch and access free wi-fi access from the parking lot. If there is not a library in the community, Alsop said residents can likely get wi-fi access near any county building.

Alsop also implored the community to support local restaurants asking residents If they can order food, do so. "Support our local restaurants to the extent that you can," he said.

Bakersfield City Manager Christian Clegg said they are reviewing whether to extend the city's emergency declaration beyond April 14 and that they are looking to allocate emergency homeless funding from the governor's office.

Clegg said they will also begin increasing signage and add minimal barriers, such as caution tape, to reinforce social distancing at public parks.

Kern County Superintendent of Schools Mary C. Barlow said they are "ready for any eventuality." She said that superintendents are meeting daily, looking at specific issues and making adjustments.

Barlow added even though schools are closed, learning continues. She said KCSOS has partnered with Canvas to assist with at-home online learning. They are also rolling out curriculum, developed for all areas, in 15 districts across the county.

KCSOS said they received 20,000 Chromebooks this week and 5,000 mi-fi hotspots and they are preparing to distribute these devices throughout the county. In addition, Barlow said school buses are being outfitted with mi-fi hotspots and are being sent to areas without connectivity.

Last week, Kern schools fed an average of 108,000 students twice a day, according to Barlow. She also added that they are working on assisting with supervision for children during school hours. However, a survey of parents found many do not need childcare at this time.

Kern County Public Health Services Director Matt Constantine said they have visited 30-40 facilities that remained open for non-essential business. He said they have found most places are willing to comply with the governor's order.

Supervisor Leticia Perez said if anyone has any questions regarding paying bills and evictions, they can call county Board of Supervisors office at (661) 868-3680 to workout a solution.

Also, Kern County Public Health Services continues to recommend the following protective measures:

  • Wash hands with soap and water often
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. Follow label instructions for proper disinfecting.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay away from work, school or other people if you become ill.

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