Local health officials push for more residents to receive COVID-19 testing to slow the spread of the virus, move into the next tier

September 23, 2020 /

Kern County residents are needed for coronavirus testing to continue to help slow the spread of coronavirus, as well as help the county move out of the state’s most restrictive purple tier, the Kern County Public Health Department said Wednesday in a press release.

Health officials say COVID-19 testing can help slow the spread of the disease because it identifies infected individuals who can then be isolated as well as their close contacts.

“This process disrupts the disease, slows the spread of the disease and preserves space in our acute care hospitals,” Public Health said in a press release. “Additionally, increased testing supports moving into a less restrictive level of the state’s reopening plan (red tier) that will allow more businesses, as well as schools and places of worship to reopen indoors.”

As of Wednesday, Kern was assigned to the purple tier, where the COVID-19 virus is considered widespread. The Kern County Public Health Department announced Wednesday 65 new COVID-19 cases in Kern, bringing the total number of cases to 31,7112. Health officials also announced three new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 360.

There were 116 people isolating in the hospital as of Tuesday, according to Kern Public Health. The California Department of Public Health said there were 59 ICU beds available.

Counties are placed within tiers because of their daily case rate (must be lower than seven new cases per 100,000 population) and positivity rate (lower than 8 percent). Additionally, the case rate criteria is artificially increased if a County’s rate of testing is less than the State’s median test rate.

Kern County has achieved the positivity rate that will allow it to move to the red tier (6.5 percent); however, the case rate, because of the artificial offset, remains higher than the state’s requirement, Kern Public Health said in a news release. Kern County’s unadjusted case rate is 6.3; however, because of the artificial offset, was reported as 7.2.

“Our community has made great progress in slowing the spread of the disease and more testing will help us continue to disrupt the spread of the virus and reopen our economy,” said Matt Constantine, Director of Kern County Public Health Services Department. 

Residents are urged to continue practicing healthy habits such as hand washing, physical distancing and wearing a face covering when in public.

There are nine free County or State testing sites spread throughout Kern County, both walk-in and drive-up services. To find locations and make an appointment, go online to kerncounty.com or call 211.

Kern Sol News is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.