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Hospital officials discuss COVID-19 trends as Kern County meets all red tier metrics except one

Coronavirus Kern County
Posted at 11:06 AM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 14:33:09-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Kern County is inching closer to the red tier, meeting two out of the three needed state metrics. The county meets the red tier metrics for the positivity rate of COVID-19 tests and the health equity metric, but fell short of meeting the needed case rate.

In order to move into the red tier, Kern County needs to have a daily case rate below 7 new cases a day per 100,000 residents. As of Tuesday, Kern County's positivity rate is 11.1 new cases a day per 100,000 with an adjusted case rate of 11.8.

While the case rate exceeded the state metric, Kern County's positivity rate was 4.9% and its health equity metric was 7.6%. The state requires a positivity rate and health equity metric below 8% to move into the red tier. Kern's positivity rate is low enough to meet the orange tier metrics.

While Kern County will remain in the purple tier for at least another week, hospital officials say they are continuing to see positive signs in the fight against COVID-19.

Dignity Health officials spoke during a roundtable meeting saying while COVID-19 rates are keeping Kern in the purple tier, they are currently about a quarter of what they were during the spike in January.

Meanwhile, the protocols in place due to COVID-19 are also having a positive impact on another virus: the flu.

According to Mercy Hospitals President and CEO Bruce Peters, this flu season Mercy has seen no hospitalizations due to the flu.

Doctor Hemmal Kothary of Dignity Health Medical Group said throughout the county, and possibly nationwide, this flu season has seen the lowest number of cases. Dr. Kothary attributed that to efforts of masking, social distancing, and handwashing.

At Memorial Hospital, Ken Keller said they have only seen two flu cases recently, compared to the typical 150 hospitalizations they encounter.