Kern County to launch COVID-19 testing response team dedicated to skilled nursing facilities

Posted at 8:33 AM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 14:21:44-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Kern County Public Health Services Department has announced the creation of a COVID-19 testing response team that will work with state agencies to protect nursing staff. The county formed the team after reports of nursing facilities having high numbers of COVID-19 and shortages of staff.

Earlier this week the Californa Department of Public Health required the facilities to implement a plan to get all staff and residents testing for the coronavirus with 21 days.

However, in a statement Kern County said that "we cannot afford to wait another 3 weeks and the county is implementing a program immediately."

“What matters most is that these are our residents, our family members and our most vulnerable population. We’re doing everything in our power to make sure all of our staff in skilled nursing facilities and their residents are safe,” said Kern Public Health Director Matt Constantine.

On Friday the team will conduct testing for facilities that cannot conduct the testing on their own.

“We are indebted to this team for their response. These individuals left their homes and their families to care for our families,” said Constantine.

The statement went on to explain, "in addition to the testing response team and staffing support, Kern County has supplied personal protective equipment and onsite training to all skilled nursing facilities. The County has also hosted daily calls with the skilled nursing facilities to assess their current conditions, staffing levels, critical needs and confirmation of accurate and timely reporting to the state."

Oversight of nursing facilities is a state responsibility, but the county determined it needed to be involved in order to protect "the health and safety of Kern County residents and to prevent further outbreaks."