State model predicts Kern to exceed ICU capacity late next month

June 15, 2020 /

A new COVID-19 state model shows Kern County may exceed it’s normal ICU capacity by the end of next month, and may see a peak in hospitalizations in February 2021 if residents do not take precautions, county officials said Monday at a press conference.

The model is predicting Kern will have 679 hospitalizations during the February peak, said Matt Constantine, the director of Kern County Public Health, and Kern is predicted to exceed it’s ICU capacity of 78 beds by July 28, according to the model.

“That causes us some concern,” said Constantine.

The model takes into account factors like population size, hospitalization rates, ICU capacity, and degree of compliance. Constantine said the state has indicated the modeling predictions are good for the next 30 days, but after are not as reliable.

County officials said this model helps staff determine what plans are needed to meet the needs of the county to ensure residents are safe.

“The model shows we need to do more,” said Constantine. “This is a good time for us to recognize we need to continue to take those actions that have been proven to be effective.”

This means wear masks, social distance, don’t touch your face, and wash hands.

Although the model shows Kern is predicted to exceed it’s hospital and ICU capacity, officials say the outcome can change if residents take action now.

“This is a model,” said Russell Judd, the CEO of Kern Medical. “The reason we are pointing it out today, this is one of the potentials. They propose it may happen. We can change the outcome of this if people follow the recommendations.”

Judd continued: “This graph does not need to come our reality.”

Judd said local hospitals have the necessary equipment, such as ventilators, supplies and staff, for the predicted peaks and surges.

“Hospitals are putting in an immense amount of effort as we face this challenge,” Judd said Monday. “We will provide the services that are needed in our community.”

RELATED CONTENT: Kern put on state’s COVID-19 watch list; county officials say this could impact Kern’s ability to reopen

Ryan Alsop also announced Monday Kern County is now in compliance with state metrics regarding transmission rates and hospitalization, ICU and ventilator capacity. Just last week, Kern was placed on the state’s watch list, but Alsop said Kern has now been removed.

“We will be going up and down as we go forward,” said Alsop. “While that is certainly confusing to most folks, the reality is we will be in compliance one day and out of compliance the next day.”

Health officials confirmed 86 new COVID-19 cases Monday morning.

Elizabeth Sanchez

Elizabeth Sanchez

Elizabeth Sanchez is the program associate for South Kern Sol. She can be reached at elizabeth@southkernsol.org.