KERN COUNTY, Calif. — California COVID metrics are continuing to improve, and that's leaving some people to ask whether or not economic restrictions could be lifted any time soon.
Most of California, including Kern County, is still stuck in the purple tier, but hospitals like Mercy say their COVID situations are improving. That's why officials say we may be on the path to leaving the purple tier.
"We're optimistic we could be looking at weeks rather than months to move to the red tier," said Michelle Corson, public relations officer, Kern Public Health.
A month or two ago, many were calling California the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., with case numbers and ICU capacities raising a great level of concern. But, for now, it appears we're on the rebound.
"In the last 14 days, 38% reduction in the number of people hospitalized with COVID," said Governor Gavin Newsom.
Newsom on Wednesday said California has seen significant improvements statewide, and Kern County hospitals announced good news as well.
"Coming out of Mercy, we are way down from last week," said Bruce Peters, president of Mercy Hospitals of Bakersfield.
"And for Memorial, we have very much stabilized the last week and a half or so," said Ken Keller, president of Dignity Health Memorial Hospital.
The state looks at three main metrics to determine when a county can advance from the purple tier to the red tier.
Our testing positivity rate and health equity quartile rate are 10.2 and 13.5% respectively, both numbers need to get to 8%. There's a bigger gap for our case rate.
"The state has our adjusted case rate at 26.8, we need to get to 7," said Corson.
Going from a 26.8 to a 7 case rate might sound like a tall task, .but public health says that number has already plummeted nearly 40 points in roughly four weeks, proof that big improvements have happened and can continue to happen in a short amount of time.
"So much of this depends on our residents and the way that we all continue to practice those healthy habits," added Corson.
Now, if the county were to move to the red tier, businesses like restaurants, gyms and movie theaters would be allowed to open indoors with limited capacity, however, 99% of California's population is still in the purple tier, according to the state.