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Kern County Public Health addresses COVID cases entering the holidays

Posted: 3:48 PM, Dec 07, 2021
Updated: 2021-12-07 20:45:37-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Kern County Public Health officials said the current case rate throughout the county has seen a significant decrease compared to three weeks ago. While still trying to be optimistic, the rise of the omicron variant and the delta variant still causing hospitalizations there is still some cause for concern as we approach the holiday season.

With 18 days until Christmas public health is reminding everyone to remain vigilant.

“We have been working with the state to expand hospital bed capacity in kern, in preparation for a potential 4th surge,” said Brynn Carrigan the director of Kern County Public Health.

While COVID cases have been trending downwards in Carrigan said the omicron variant is still a concern.

“Omicron has been identified in many states throughout the U-S including in California, while there are no identified cases in KC as of now, omicron is actively circulating in many neighboring counties so it's likely only a matter of time before it is identified here,” said Carrigan.

Local hospitals are still seeing COVID cases.

“Although we are seeing the burden of COVID-19 ease on the hospitals, both the Hospitals and the pre hospitals emergency medical services system remain impacted,” said Carrigan.

According to Kern County Public Health currently, there are 189 staffable hospital beds In Kern County and 36 staffable ICU beds.

ICU capacity in Kern County stands at 13.3% and 13.5% regionally.

After the holidays that could change.

“We continue to review the state’s modeling on a weekly basis for planning purposes, the worst-case scenario in the state's modeling continues to suggest a significant surge in early February, peaking with 1,279 cases on February 14th and 947 hospitalizations on February 19th,” said Carrigan.

Carrigan added a moderate scenario however suggests a smaller surge peaking at 231 cases on February 17th and 217 hospitalizations on February 24th.

She also added the best-case scenario: “The best-case scenario suggests a slow decrease in decrease transmission with hospitalizations bottoming out in May 2022,” said Carrigan.

As the holiday season approaches and variants continue to rise Kern County Public Health Department is partnering with local organizations to help get the community vaccinated. According to public health, just last week over 5,000 Kern County residents completed their vaccination series which is the highest since early October.

As of Tuesday, 50.2 percent of Kern County’s five and older population have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. And 57-percent of Kern’s five and older population is at least partially vaccinated.

But the state’s modeling projects a fourth COVID surge after the holidays which is why the Boys and Girls Club of Kern County and the Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force are both offering vaccine clinics to help prevent the COVID surge.

“As long as it's necessary, we’re going to be there. If our clinic in Stockdale needs to be more than one day a week we are going to do that," explained Maggie Cushine, director of grants management & program facilitation. "We want to make sure that families have as many opportunities to keep their families safe so we are going to be there to continue being a partner in the community.”

“Everyone else through the holidays that we get folks vaccinated, that’s how we are going to make sure that the next surge that is going to be on the way that folks are vaccinated and protected and safe especially throughout the holiday season,” added Jay Tamsi, co-chair of the Kern County Latino Task Force.

According to public health, the worst-case scenario in the state's modeling continues to suggest a significant surge in early February. Both state and local health officials said it's not time to panic but say the best defense in preventing the variant is getting vaccinated and getting your booster shot.

As the county prepares to start this week, more assistance for COVID-19 will be on the way.

“Starting this week, the state has provided staffing for 15 additional ICU beds that will be located at Adventist health Bakersfield and 15 med surge beds that will be located at Adventist health Delano,” said Carrigan.

Carrigan said strike teams are also in Kern to help assist ambulances.

“We also have 2 strike teams assisting with ambulance response to 911 calls in Kern, each strike team consists of 5 ambulances, 10 ambulance crew members, and a supervisor. These teams are slated to remain in place through December 18th and call volume will be evaluated at that time,” said Carrigan.

As far as preparation goes for the arrival of the omicron variant Carrigan said mitigation will remain the same as with other variants.

How does Kern County compare to the statewide COVID numbers?

  • There were 189 new cases Tuesday in Kern. Statewide that number is at nearly 4,000.
  • When it comes to testing positivity rate, Kern is outpacing the state. California as a whole stands at 2.2 percent, whereas Kern County is at 3.2 percent.
  • There have been nearly 60 million vaccines administered in the state and more than 960,000 of those were in Kern.
  • There are more than 3,600 COVID hospitalizations in the state with 138 from Kern County.
  • When it comes to ICU beds available, statewide there are 1,901. In Kern County, there are 20.