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Kern County experiences the highest number of COVID-19 cases with over 2,000 reported

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Posted at 12:07 PM, Dec 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 15:14:52-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Tuesday morning Director of Public Health Matt Constantine announced in front of the Board of Supervisors, the single highest case rate of COVID-19 cases in Kern County: 2,082. Constantine noted that nearly 800 of those cases were from prisons or skilled nursing facilities.

Constantine also reported on the San Joaquin region’s ICU capacity, which Kern is considered a part of. As of Tuesday at 12 p.m. the state will report that the region’s ICU capacity is at 1.6-percent.

The regional stay-at-home order still applies until the region is at 15-percent or above. Kern’s ICU rate is at 4.8-percent but is discounted to zero percent because of the adjustment the state places on their calculation of ICU rates.

The county continues to utilize health equity census tracks and the Ready Kern system to encourage testing. The distribution of 12,000 gift cards to incentivize testing has been completed. Kern’s canvassing team is also going door to door, speaking to Kern residents about preventative measures and the importance of testing.

Constantine announced that Kern can expect the first delivery of the vaccine within the next day or two. The vaccine will be targeted towards high risk, hospital employees who have direct contact with COVID positive patients. Once those high-risk hospital employees have received the vaccine, the remaining hospital employees and healthcare workers, which include paramedics, EMTs and dialysis center employees will receive vaccinations.

Constantine said it will likely be months until the vaccine is available to most Kern residents, but that “hopefully, there is an end in sight.”

When Supervisor Mike Maggard asked for clarification on when the second dose of the vaccine should be taken, Constantine said the next dose should be taken 3-4 weeks after the first dose.

Maggard went on to encourage people who are ill to seek medical treatment as Constantine ensured there is enough room to care for county residents. Constantine reiterated that the issue with the county’s ICU rate is based on staffing. The county has taken measures to ensure there is enough staff to fulfill ICU needs.

Maggard listed several ways Kern is meeting those needs, through exploring legislative options to change nurse/staff ratios to relieve employees from extra work to focus on critical care, supplementing nursing staff with retired healthcare workers, and looking into hiring nursing students.