BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The holiday season is behind us and after travel and gatherings. The county is reporting a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections, especially with growing concerns around the omicron variant.
Data from the state shows the new daily case rate is nearly 125 per 100,000 in California and here in Kern County, it’s about 46 per 100,000 so with cases on the rise, officials say these numbers are projected to increase over the month and possibly into February as well.
“We are certainly concerned about the increase we’re seeing in our daily cases and it’s a fairly dramatic increase,” said Michelle Corson, Kern County Public Health.
“Hospitals have been headed in the right direction for several weeks, and they have just begun to see increases,” said Corson.
The latest data from the state shows 167 people are hospitalized with COVID as of Friday night and since mid-December, these numbers have been steadily growing. The last surge we had in hospitalizations was near the end of August with a gradual decrease since then and we are seeing that uptick now.
“And we’re preparing for that, the modeling suggests that we would be potentially moving into another surge, so this is something that we’ve been expecting, in that the modeling had suggested it.”
Michelle Corson said one way the county is preparing for that is by having two state-staffed teams. It expands capacity in Kern Medical, Adventist Bako and Delano. By adding 25 ICU beds and 15 med surge beds, and plans to remain through at least February.
“It comes back to all of us, we all have that responsibility to really limit that transmission of COVID-19 so that our hospitals are able to operate and serve all of us when we truly have an emergency.”
As for the omicron variant, even though the county’s dashboard has more than 15 confirmed cases Corson added that not every positive COVID test is not tested for the variant type. It’s unclear what percentage of local tests are sequenced.
“The state takes from those samples statewide, and just does random sequencing constantly. All of these processes are happening at the state level and so here at the local level, we’re not engaged in that.”
But Corson added that even though this variant is highly contagious, data shows that vaccinations and masking are still useful preventative methods.
The county has an increased ICU capacity. The latest data from the state shows 31 people are in the ICU with COVID and since mid-December, these numbers have been steadily growing. Michelle Corson added that typically hospitalizations and ICU cases start to increase a couple of weeks after an uptick in cases. So it’s unclear when we could see a peak in these hospitalizations.