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Public Health addresses backlog and school waivers

Posted at 3:31 PM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 23:17:49-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Two elementary schools are waiting for the green light for on campus learning in Kern County and Public Health is addressing the backlog in cases as well as sharing some new changes they are making Thursday night.

23abc's Tori Cooper was at the weekly morning press briefing and gained some insight into how the Public Health Department is finding new ways to track those who they have been unable to contact about their COVID-19 disease.

The backlog in cases taking place across the state has been resolved locally, Public Health Lead Epidemiologist Kim Hernandez said, “Heard from the state that they have resolved most of those issues,” Public Health says a number of cases locally were still impacted by this backlog initially. However, now that they have addressed the issues Hernandez said they are moving forward.

“We did receive about 1,000 cases over that weekend that had sort of back logged in that electronic laboratory reporting system, that weekend those have all been processed and we are continuing to move forward.” said Hernandez.

However, Hernandez said they are still having trouble getting in touch with many patients who initially tested positive for COVID-19 and now Public Health is creating a new category just for them.

Hernandez said, “The category will include people who are presumed to have recovered and presumed to have been released from isolation based on the time it has been that their specimen was collected that resulted in a positive test.”

They likely expect that most of these individuals will be from our local skilled nursing facilities, Hernandez continued.

However, another big talker Thursday surrounds the future for students learnining back on campus, officials said a number of elementary schools have applied for the waiver.

Director of Kern County Public Health Matt Constantine said, “More than 20 elementary schools have expressed interest, we have received two completed applications that we are reviewing currently.”

Of the 20 schools that expressed interest, Heritage Elementary and Gideon Academy have already completed the application process. Heritage told 23abc they had to talk to their attorney before commenting on their roll out plan, however Gideon Academy shared their plan for all 16 of their students with 23abc.

Gideon Academy Administrator Aniceto Hernandez said, “In the class room we have our student desk spaced apart and their Barries in between them.”

Administrator Hernandez said there will be 8 students to a class, during recess staff will be enforcing social distancing among students unless they are from the same household. Students will be required to wear a mask if state and local officials approve the private school academy to resume on campus learning on August 24th, Hernandez continued. If students don't have a mask one will be provided to them.

"Third through sixth grade are going to be wearing their mask they wear them when they are in the class and when they are navigating the classroom but while they are at their desk and if they are having difficulty breathing they can remove them at their desk..” said Administrator Hernandez.

We will continue to monitor the status of both elementary school applications with Public Health officials, and we will bring you the latest data from the new category surrounding those who are presumed to have recovered but have not contacted Public Health.