"In the Red again"

"In the Red again"By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

After a roller coaster of shutdowns, tiered re-openings and an emergency shelter-at-home order as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kern County has once again crawled from the dreaded “Purple” tier of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy into the less-stringent “Red” tier – with trends indicating that we could even progress to the “Orange” tier for the first time since the state formalized re-opening measures.

Expanded access to local businesses and services, as well as returns to on-campus instruction for some, is cause for celebration to many. But authorities caution the public to remain mindful of the pandemic in an effort to keep COVID-positivity trending downward.

“RRH would like to remind our community to remain vigilant and keep following the precautions recommended by public health experts,” said Jayde Glenn, director of marketing and communications for Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.

Those precautions include wearing masks when leaving home, keeping at least six feet of distance from others when in public and frequent, thorough hand washing (at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap).

The state re-opening framework has four tiers – Purple, Red, Orange and Yellow, from most to least restrictive – which are applied to all California counties. Kern’s new Red status allows for (but is not limited to) the following:

- restaurants: open indoors at 25-percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer

- gyms: open indoors at 10-percent capacity

- movie theaters: open indoors at 25-percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer

- museums, zoos and aquariums can open indoors

- hotels and lodging can open fitness centers at 10-percent capacity

Locals have long awaited being able to return to many of our small businesses, particularly Ridgecrest’s one and only movie theater – which announced it will reopen Friday, April 9.

“We are exited to be back to showing movies to the community that has supported us this last year,” said Kelly Walden, the theater’s general manager.

Restaurants and other businesses have expressed their excitement to welcome the community back through their doors for indoor services.

“The state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy requires a county to remain in a tier for at least three weeks and meet the metrics of the less restrictive tier for at least two weeks before moving down again,” said a release from Kern County Public Health. “If our metrics continue to improve, Kern County could move to the Orange tier as early as April 7.”

As of March 23, Kern County’s adjusted case rate is 5.5 per 100,000 (down from 7.8/100,000 the week prior), but must drop below 4/100,000 to qualify for the Orange tier. The county’s testing positivity rate of 2.8 percent (down from 3.7 percent the week prior) and positivity rate adjusted for health equity of 3.9 percent (down from 4.9 percent) both already qualify for the Orange tier.

In addition to basic precautions, RRH is also recommending that members of the community get vaccinated as soon as they become eligible. You can sign up online at myturn.ca.gov to become notified about your eligibility and to schedule an appointment (see related story).

For more information, visit covid19.ca.gov or kerncountypublichealth.com/2019-novel-coronavirus.

Pictured: Members of the community can once again line up (six feet apart) to see their favorite titles – new and old – at Ridgecrest Cinemas. — File photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2021-03-26