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Kern Supervisors vote to end covid emergency in Kern as Governor Newsom ends state emergency

Kern County's official covid-19 emergency was originally declared on March 31, 2020, twelve days after Governor Gavin Newsom issued the statewide stay-at-home order.
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Posted at 6:09 PM, Mar 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-15 18:26:44-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — In their evening meeting on February 28, 2023, the Kern County Board of Supervisors voted to end the local health emergency spurred by the covid-19 pandemic.

The emergency was originally declared on March 31, 2020, twelve days after the State of California issued a statewide stay-at-home order. Director of Kern Public Health Brynn Carrigan says the emergency has changed the county's medical infrastructure

"We've spent the last three years building the health care infrastructure to respond to covid-19 on an ongoing basis. We have more than 100 vaccination providers here in Kern County," said Carrigan.

Infectious Disease Chief for Kern Medical Dr. Royce Johnson agrees that the stress the pandemic had originally put on the medical system has subsided since those early days.

"The risk of covid has decreased, of contracting it and the severity of the cases has decreased, probably because the omicron variant is less virulent, and secondarily because the population, many of them have had the disease and have acquired some natural immunity, and a good number of people like myself have had a lot of immunizations," said Johnson.

Though the risk of people developing severe covid symptoms has decreased, doctors, including Dr. Johnson, warn that the risk is not gone.

"I want people to understand that covid is clearly much better in almost every way, but not gone, and there are still people at risk that need to be immunized, and we need to take precautions with," said Johnson.

Carrigan says the declaration of local health emergencies allowed local public health officers access to resources through the state and federal government, such as staffing, equipment, and supplies.

"Covid-19 has actually had a significant impact on our medical infrastructure," said Carrigan. "It has changed how people are accessing health care, and so we are having to really sort of redesign our health care delivery system to respond to how our community is accessing those services."

According to Carrigan, more people are avoiding medical care until their symptoms become severe enough that they have to go to the emergency room.

"Our emergency rooms are seeing significant increases in volume from patients than there were before the pandemic itself," said Carrigan.

Johnson also talked about the ongoing problem of staffing shortages at hospitals, which had been a problem even before the pandemic, but has gotten worse since 2020.


Millions of people across the country have lost their lives during this pandemic, and still more contract, suffer, and die every day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been more than 103,000,000 (one hundred three million) confirmed covid cases in the United States, and 1,115,637 (one million one hundred fifteen thousand six hundred thirty seven) have died as a result of covid-19 infection.

According to the most recent data, more than 3,300 patients with covid symptoms are being admitted to U.S. hospitals every week, and more than 2.400 people a week are still dying of covid-19.