Kern County Public Health released detailed COVID-19 death data; Hypertension, diabetes most common underlying medical condition

October 5, 2020 /

The most common underlying medical condition found in Kern County COVID-19 deaths are hypertension and diabetes, according to the Kern County Public Health Department.

Of the 386 COVID-19 related deaths in Kern County, 132 people had hypertension and 119 had diabetes. Another 65 people had cardiovascular diseases and 32 had chronic kidney disease. Health officials announced the more detailed death information last Thursday during a press conference after months-long requests for the information.   

“This demonstrates the need to keep ourselves as healthy as possible to significantly decrease the likelihood of severe illness and or death should you contract COVID-19,” said Brynn Carrigan, assistant director of public health. 

The death data also show Hispanics make up 60 percent of the COVID-19 deaths in Kern County. This means 226 of the deaths have been identified as Hispanic. The second largest group that has been identified is white, making up 28 percent of Kern’s COVID-19 deaths. 

Health officials also reported Monday 31 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total 32,522 cases in Kern County. Of the total, 16, 404 people have recovered.

Health officials also reported that California released the Health Equity Metric Blueprint for a Healthier Economy that will go into effect Tuesday, which will determine whether Kern may move up the tier system in place by the state. 

Carrigan reported that with the new blueprint metric, Kern was classified as a large county, thus the county will be measured by the test positivity rate within the lowest quartile of healthy places index. This means each county’s census tracts are ranked according to the California Healthy Places Index, which considers socioeconomic conditions. Such conditions are education, transportation, housing, access to healthcare, and more. Additionally, Kern must submit a plan on how state grant funding will be allocated to limit the transmission of the virus in susceptible areas. 

For Kern County to enter the less restrictive “red” tier it must meet the following three conditions for two consecutive weeks. 

  1. The adjusted county case rate must be 7 or below per 100,000 per population 
  2. Positivity rate must be below 8 percent. 
  3. 25 percent of those lowest ranking census tract or lowest quartile must have an aggregate positivity rate of 8 percent or below. 

The state reported last week that Kern County was still in the most restrictive purple tier, with a case rate of 6.6 percent and adjusted case rate of 7.3 percent with a testing positivity at 5.8 percent. Carrigan noted if the lowest quartile testing positivity rate was reported, it would have been 8.3 percent. This trend is promising if it remains continuous, health officials said. 

Health officials said Thursday it is vital to continue testing to meet the new system requirements and to determine individuals with the virus so that they can isolate and decrease the spread.  

Head to for free COVID-19 testing information.