Kern numbers soar, IWV cases stabilize

Kern numbers soar, IWV cases stabilizeBy REBECCA NEIPP

News Review Staff Writer

The number of COVID-positive residents in the county continues to increase, with the average number of new daily cases averaging in the hundreds, according to Kern County Public Health Department Director Matt Constantine.

He told the Ridgecrest City Council at last week’s meeting that the county has been following the modeling software provided by the state to help track the trajectory of positives and hospitalizations.

According to that model, the trend will continue through July, “and we will not peak until February,” he said. “We start to come down in the summer of 2021.”

Kern Medical Center CEO Russell Judd announced the following day that Bakersfield hospitals have reached the point of maximum capacity, and have begun to implement surge plans.

Although the number of positive cases reported by Ridgecrest Regional Hospital began to significantly increase starting in June, CEO Jim Suver said that the local establishment has not reached the critical state experienced by those located in West Kern.

“Our volume of COVID patients has remained pretty consistent with the results we are seeing, but we have not experienced anything we are unable to handle,” said Suver.

However, he did acknowledge that the supply of Remdesivir — the recommended drug for combating coronavirus — has been in short supply. “We are starting to get a few additional doses here.”

California continues to experience a shortage in test kits, as well. Gov. Gavin Newsom put restrictions on screening until supplies could be replenished and labs could catch up with the demand for processing results. Although RRH canceled it’s free drive-through test clinic a couple of weeks ago, they have since worked through a significant portion of their backlog of test results.

At press time, RRH reported 97 positive results out of a total of 3,185 tests administered. Some 295 remained pending. (See rrh.org/patients-visitors/coronavirus-updates for details).

In Kern County some 18,411 positive results have been reported out of nearly 124,500 tests. There have also been 139 deaths reported in Kern. (See kernpublichealth.com/covid-19_dashboard).

“At this time, I am not expecting a slow-down in the number of new positives,” said Suver. “But, knock on wood, I don’t anticipate the kind of crisis in care they are experiencing in Bakersfield, either.

“I feel confident that we will be able to meet the needs of our community as long as everyone continues to take this seriously and practice every reasonable precaution.”

Suver reminded patients not to overlook non-COVID illnesses.

“Our hospital and clinics are safe. Please take care of all of your existing health-care needs. Some people are waiting or deferring their appointments for other issues, which can be just as dangerous as fighting COVID — if not more so.”

Pictured: The Kern County Public Health dashboard shows a sharp uptick in reported positives beginning the last half of June.

Story First Published: 2020-07-31