Kern spikes, but remains open

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Kern spikes, but remains openKern County was put on a state watchlist last week after “experiencing elevated disease transmission and increasing hospitalization,” according to the California Department of Public Health.

The state has been allowing accelerated reopening of commercial operations over the last several weeks. However, counties that experience more than 25 positive cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents (Kern has 78), or an increase in positive cases above 8 percent (ours was 8.2 last week) could be reevaluated for relaxed restrictions.

Kern County Public Health Department Chair Matt Constantine said that as a result of our spike, county officials were required to communicate to the state the drivers of those increased metrics, as well as the actions taken to reduce those numbers.

“We had a ‘targeted engagement’ phone call with the state to review everything we are doing,” said Constantine. “They were happy with our efforts… we asked if there were any additional measures we needed to take, and they said no.”

He said that there was no discussion about scaling back on the businesses that have recently returned to service.

While Kern County’s overall numbers continue to change more dramatically than those in the Indian Wells Valley, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital CEO Jim Suver confirmed this week that we had our first local hospitalizations for patients suffering from COVID-19.

He did not specify the number of patients who have been admitted, but at press time the number of positive results reported out of RRH was 10 out of nearly 1,000 tests.

“RRH values personal privacy and will never release specific information about any specific patient,” said Suver.

However, he noted, he balances those privacy obligations with the need to share information that will play a role in keeping the community well during the crisis.

“While the hospital is absolutely safe for all patients, please continue to be diligent about protecting yourself from the virus,” he said.

Suver also commended the community for continued efforts to avoid the spread of infection. “Your actions have helped keep you, your loved ones and the rest of our community relatively safe.”

KCPH continues to recommend that residents leave their homes only for essential activities. When venturing out is necessary, individuals are still urged to maintain a distance of 6 feet or more from anyone outside their immediate household.

Individuals should also continue to wear masks in public, avoid crowds, avoid touching your face, and wash hands frequently.

RRH also offers free drive-through testing for COVID-19. To make an appointment, text “TESTING” to (833) RRH-4YOU or call (866) 774-9984.

Visiting the dashboard at kernpublichealth.com or search for COVID-19 updates at rrh.org for details.

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Pictured: Public Health Director Matt Constantine — News Review file photo

Story First Published: 2020-06-19