Kern County in the red... almost

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

Ridgecrest could see some businesses reopening and lighter restrictions if positive COVID-19 testing continues trending downward according to a Kern County Public Health announcement Tuesday.

Currently in the most-restrictive purple “widespread” tier, Kern County’s COVID-19 positivity metrics now qualify for the next tier down and the county could be placed in the red “substantial” tier as soon as March 24. The tiers are part of California’s four-tiered “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.”

According to KCPH, Kern’s county-wide daily new case rate dropped below 10/100,000 on as of March 16, qualifying us for the red tier for the first time since before the holidays last year. The county’s test positivity metrics technically qualify for the orange “moderate” tier, but counties can’t shift to a lower tier until all metrics are meeting that tier’s requirements.

Expanded operations include indoor dining and movie theaters at 25-percent capacity (or 100 people, whichever is fewer) and gyms open at 10-percent capacity. Junior high and high schools can also reopen for in-person instruction with precautions in place (see future editions for Sierra Sands Unified School District’s reopening plans).

Kern county can officially move to the red tier once it meets the requirements for two consecutive weeks. Counties must stay in a tier for at least three weeks before qualifying for the next tier down.

Locally, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital detected 11 new positives since its March 9 update, with 33 cases pending. To date, RRH has administered more than 11,000 tests and nearly 5,000 vaccinations.

“We appreciate our local businesses and residents for their tireless efforts to stay safe and practice safety protocols during these unprecedented times,” said the KCPH release.

“Our community is encouraged to continue implementing all the healthy habits and adhere to state guidance as we progress through the tiers and begin to reopen our local economy.”

Story First Published: 2021-03-19