Kern County falls in the ‘worst’ Tier of Governor Newsom’s new COVID-19 guidelines

August 31, 2020 /

Kern County falls in the lowest Tier of Governor Gavin Newsom’s new guidelines for counties to reopen their economies, local health officials said at Monday’s press conference.

As of Monday, Kern County’s case rate per 100,000 people was 13.4, according to Matt Constantine, the Director of Public Health, and Kern’s positivity rate was just over 10 percent.

Counties that fall in the lowest Tier, also known as Widespread Transmission, have more than seven new daily cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate that is higher than 8 percent.

“I point out and emphasize this framework will be applied in a way that makes reopening slow and stringent,” said Ryan Alsop, Kern County’s Chief Administrative Officer.

Thirty-eight counties across California — or 87 percent of the state’s population — fall in the Tier One or “worst” category, Alsop said.

The Governor’s new guidelines that were announced lat week focus of positivity rates and new daily cases.

Alsop said Kern County is working to move into the next Tier — Substantial Transmission. In order to reach the second Tier, Kern County must have 4 to 7 new daily cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate between 5 to 8 percent for 14 consecutive days.

If the county is to reach the next Tier, nail salons can resume indoor operations with adaptions, and restaurants can being indoor services with 25 percent capacity, Alsop said. Gyms can also open with 10 percent capacity, and churches can operate indoor with 25 percent capacity. Under this Tier, schools can also reopen with face-to-face instruction once the County has been in this Tier for two weeks, according to Alsop.

Under Tier 3 — moderate transmission — counties must have one to four new daily cases per 100,000 people and 2 to 5 percent testing positivity rate.

“We are quite a long ways away to getting into the orange Tier,” Alsop said.

Under the third Tier, restaurants can begin operating indoors at 50 percent capacity and bars can reopen outdoor operations.

The final Tier — minimal transmission — counties must have 1 or fewer cases per 100,000 people and less than a 2 percent testing positivity rate.

“We are very far away from,” Alsop said. “(It’s) going to take considerable amount of work.”

However, Constantine said Kern County’s number’s have been trending downward over the last few weeks, “which is good news,” he said.

Counties can move forward and backward in the Tiers depending on the cases and positivity rate.

Elizabeth Sanchez

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