BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The United States Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams came to Bakersfield Monday afternoon. He spoke with community leaders about Kern County Business, education, and ultimately the COVID-19 situation. 23ABC's Bayan Wang attended the press conference held after their meeting has more on what was discussed.
The big discussion was how medical leaders in the community have been responding to the virus and what steps they've taken to stop the spread. Adams said recent trends have shown that these efforts have been paying off.
"Why did I come to Bakersfield today," asked Adams. "The reason I came here, was number one to help everyone understand what's going right and what's going right is that we have significantly lowered the death rate from this virus."
"I also wanted to give the folks here hope because I know there is a lot of fatigue," Adams continued. "It feels like this has been going on forever. But, I honestly think that we are over the hump. I think we're over the hump because the positivity rate is coming down. I think we're over the hump because we're near a vaccine."
Adams toured alternative care sites at the county fairgrounds and also got an inside look at the Kern Medical Center's trauma center and COVID-19 unit. He said he also spoke to businesses who were frustrated because of current restrictions in the state.
"We really need to get away from this idea of health versus the economy. Several business owners brought up their concerns about the need to get businesses open. I shared those concerns with them. I said the quickest way to get businesses open is to drive down community transmission rates," he said.
In the county, those community transmission rates have been improving significantly since July when we saw the most positive cases since the pandemic began. The last reported case rate in the county was 6.8 per 100,000 residents, which is under the state's threshold of 7 per 100,000. Meeting that metric allows several sectors such as restaurants, gyms, and houses of worship to partially reopen inside. But that's where the frustration lies.
"The state has now artificially adjusted our case rate so that they are adding, inflating our case rate because we are testing lower than the state average," explained Kern County Public health Director Matt Constantine.
Adams noted that with a pandemic of this scale there is going to be a conflict between federal, state, and local officials. For now, he urged people to do what they can to limit the spread of the virus so we can move to some degree of normalcy in the coming days.