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Public Health worried about surges in COVID-19, moving forward in monitoring nursing facilities

Matt Constantine
Posted at 9:41 PM, Jun 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 00:41:23-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — "We have made tremendous progress in the last couple months," said Public Health Director Matt Constantine. "But we're not done. We have a lot of work ahead of us."

During the Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning, Public Health Director Matt Constantine warned the community about the potential to slip backward in the COVID-19 pandemic. He said his message to the public is, "COVID-19 is still here. It is still a threat, it's still a risk to our system. It's still a risk to us."

Constantine said that if the county sees a surge in cases and our hospitalization capacity diminish, there is a real chance the county could move backwards in Gov. Gavin Newsom's plan for reopening. He said the state is watching county number very closely and analyzing data daily.

"I say we need to continue our efforts," Constantine said. "We are not through this."

Constantine all called for more to be done to help regulated the spread of COVID-19 at skilled nursing facilities. Locally, county officials have reported that over half of the deaths in Kern County have stemmed from three skilled nursing facilities. Skilled nursing facilities are state regulated, however, and the county has not had much direct involvement.

"We've actually gone and pulled in people to do sort of informal assessments at the county level. We don't have authority," Constantine said. "But even the little bit of time that we're in there, there are significant issues we're observing."

In response, Supervisor Mike Maggard offered a plan to designate an official to monitor skilled nursing facilities.

Maggard said this official would monitor local skilled nursing facilities and ensure proper precautions are being taken are coronavirus cases rise.