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Alsop: Kern County not meeting parameters to move quickly through Stage Two

Kern County Chief Administrative Office Ryan Alsop
Posted at 12:47 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 15:51:21-04

During the Kern County Public Health's coronavirus briefing, the county's chief administrative officer said that the county is not in compliance with state guidelines to move quicker through Stage Two of the state's plan.

"Our ability as a county to move quicker through those phases of Stage Two depends on guidance that [Governor Gavin Newsom] has provided the counties. We have been given that guidance. Right now we are not in compliance with all of the parameters of that guidance. There are two parameters in particular that are problematic," said Kern County Chief Administrative Office Ryan Alsop.

Those two parameters, according to Alsop include the number of cases and the number of deaths. According to the state guidelines, a county can have "no more than 1 COVID-19 case per 10,000 in the past 14 days prior to the attestation submission date." In Kern County, that means no more 90 cases. During the briefing, Kern County Public Health Services' Matt Constantine noted that the county had 50 new cases.

In addition, a county can have "no COVID-19 death in the past 14 days prior to the attestation submission date." And on Thursday Constantine announced four new deaths in the county.

However, Alsop said that the county is working with the state on changing those parameters to better fit the situation in the county.

"We believe there is room for improvement in those two guidance points. We believe that different methodology, consideration of the different methodology, is something the governor needs to be considering. We are in discussions, and had a great discussion yesterday, with all of our area hospitals and their top physicians and we are talking collectively about how we respond to the governor's guidance. We are working with them to make the case for Kern County. We are suggesting that a better measurement should be on the rate of hospitalizations per day, as compared to the total number of positive tests as a better indicator of our preparedness to begin to re-open."

Alsop argued that this approach is a better gauge of how the county is managing the virus.

"If you recall flattening the curve that we have all seen that was specifically to describe how we manage the spread of this virus. It is not about how we eliminate this virus. It is about managing the spread of this virus and managing the available hospital capacity so we don't overwhelm the medical system here in Kern County. We are doing that well. We have plenty of capacity in our hospitals. In fact, our hospitals each have plans in place at their own locations to do an expansion of that capacity. We also have an alternative care site at the Kern County Fairgrounds that is ready to go now with 48-hour notice for up to 250 patients at a time."

As a result, Alsop said the county will continue to work with local partners and state officials to change how much room Kern County has in moving through Stage Two.

"We will be continuing to work with our medical community, our top physicians in this community to make the case to the governor. We will build consensus among that group and we will do that together. We appreciate them for all of their work, their time, and their support going forward as we continue to seek greater local latitude to move more quickly through the governor's plans."