Kern Board of Supervisors approves to purchase, distribute gift cards to residents receiving COVID-19 testing

November 17, 2020 /

The Kern County Board of Supervisors approved Tuesday a proposal to purchase and distribute $25 gift cards to people receiving COVID-19 testing in geographical areas that have been impacted the most by the virus.

The board agreed to allocate $360,000 from the CARES Act fund to purchase and distribute 12,000 gift cards. Each person getting tested, no matter their age, will receive a visa gift card, according to Jim Zervis, Kern County’s Chief Operations Officer.

The County made this proposal to incentivize residents in the Census tracts that have been identified by the Health Equity Metric to get tested.

These areas include Census tracts in Oildale, Bakersfield, Shafter, Wasco, McFarland, Delano, Lake Isabella, Ridgecrest, Mojave, Arvin and Lamont.

Zervis said the goal is to use the gift cards to increase testing by 1,500 tests per week, which is a 166 percent increase in testing within the lowest quartile census tract.

The gift cards will also provide economic support to individuals receiving the gift cards and to the local economy, Zervis said.

“I am support of this,” said Supervisor Zach Scrivner. “Not just because it will incentivize people to get tested. It also raises awareness.”

Scrivner spoke of the importance of testing as it affects the County’s numbers to meet the state metrics that will allow Kern to move into a less restrictive tier. The state announced Monday Kern reverted back into the purple tier, which is the most restrictive tier, causing many local businesses to stop indoor operations.

“(Testing) affects our adjusted case rate, and we see how big of a deal a couple percentage points can be for us, from moving from the purple tier to the red tier as soon as possible,” Scrivner said.

Head to KernCounty.com for COVID-19 testing information.

Elizabeth Sanchez

Elizabeth Sanchez

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