Persistent COVID spikes close more businesses

Persistent COVID spikes close more businessesBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The COVID-19 vaccine is beginning to make the rounds for select personnel in Ridgecrest, but new cases are still on the rise to the tune of dozens of cases daily.

According to information from Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, RRH has gathered 1,235 positive cases as of Jan. 12 (up from just over 1,000 on Jan. 5). COVID tests have shown a 37% positivity rate for the week of Jan. 1-7, and there are more than 100 pending tests.

While Ridgecrest enjoyed a brief stint in the “Red Tier” last year, all but a few California counties have been relegated to the most-restrictive Purple Tier, labeled “Widespread.”

Metrics for the Widespread Tier are more than seven daily new cases per 100,000 residents or a testing positivity rate of more than 8 percent.

Purple-Tier restrictions include the closure of many non-essential indoor operations. But some local businesses, even though allowed to otherwise operate, have had to limit operations due to staff sickness.

“We are drastically reducing staff today to protect overall credit union operations,” announced Desert Valleys Federal Credit Union when it closed walk-in services after staff exposure to the virus.

“Over the next two weeks, we will be operating on a limited staff to allow our ill employees to recover and allow exposed employees to quarantine.”

More local businesses, including other financial institutions, have been forced to do the same.

Kern County health officials continue to stress the basic precautions to limit the spread — washing hands, wearing masks, and practicing physical distancing — as well as staying home except for essential needs.

RRH CEO Jim Suver has echoed the county’s message during this “critical time.”

“Hospital space and resources are scarce, and we all need to continue working together and during our part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Suver.

RRH has also distributed nearly 500 vaccinations locally — for those who fall under the County’s “Phase 1a” for vaccination. The vaccination roll out involves multiple phases, as well as multiple tiers within those

phases.

Those in Phase 1a’s tiers include various healthcare personnel, long-term care residents, paramedics and EMTs.

Phase 1b, which will be executed in two tiers, comes next and includes individuals 75 and older and those at risk of exposure in the education, childcare, emergency services and food and agriculture sectors (Tier 1); and individuals 65-74 years old, those at risk of exposure at work in the transportation, sheltering facilities and critical manufacturing sectors, as well as incarcerated and homeless populations (Tier 2).

“As soon as Phase 1b is opened officially by the county, RRH will be sharing information on COVID-19 appointment booking for those individuals in the eligible tiers,” announced RRH on social media.

For more on the vaccine, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html, kernpublichealth.com/covid-19-vaccine-schedule or rrh.org/patients-visitors/coronavirus-updates/covid-19-vaccine.

Pictured: Kim Duff LVNII of Employee Health, prepares Robert Wood, RCP, RRT, Cardiopulmonary Services Manager. Wood is one of the first six to get vaccinated with the COVID vaccine. — Courtesy photo

Story First Published: 2021-01-15