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County officials encourage state public health to work 'more closely' with counties

Posted at 4:36 PM, Sep 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-11 20:27:53-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Thursday’s Kern County Public Health news briefing caused many in the community to be frustrated after County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop detailed what he called a new penalty being placed on Kern because its testing numbers are below the state average.

He also explained that he thinks the state should be doing a better job of communicating with counties.

"Counties are literally being given a heads up, often with little detail, just hours before the state makes a new announcement on what the governor will now require of us," Alsop said.

Alsop is talking about the state's new tier-based framework to "safely" and "slowly" open up the economy. Most gyms, places of worship, and restaurants are still not allowed to operate indoors in Kern, and because of the so-called penalty, it’s looking like things will stay that way longer than they otherwise would have.

This comes with much disappointment to local businesses like Hungry Hunter, which has had to furlough about 45 employees.

"So we have 65 to 70 tables inside the restaurant, and we’re down to about 12 due to just patio seating," said Jeremy Matteucci, general manager of the restaurant.

In response to some of what Alsop said, the California Department of Public Health telling 23ABC in a statement "The California Department of Public Health has multiple calls with county health officers and executives weekly. We are committed to communicating processes and policies changes to our local partners with as much advance notices as possible.”

Still, Alsop feels more could be done.

“Governor, your public health team needs to work more closely with counties, we need to better understand these directives, why they matter," he said.