Kern County has met State metrics to move into the Orange Tier, a less restrictive tier, of the State’s blueprint for a safer economy, effective Wednesday, Kern Public Health Officials announced Tuesday.
Kern’s adjusted case rate continues to drop. As of Tuesday, the case rate was at 3.2 percent, a two point decrease from the week prior, according to Brynn Carrigan, the Director of Kern Public Health. In order to move into the Yellow Tier, the adjusted case rate must be below 2. Kern’s testing positivity rate was at 2.2 on Tuesday and must be below 2 to move into the Yellow Tier. Lastly, Kern’s health equity metric was at 2.6 and must be below 2.2 to move into the Yellow Tier.
“Today is an exciting day for Kern County,” said Carrigan of moving into the Orange Tier.
Many industries are now able to expand their operations with the Orange Tier. Retail stories will no longer have capacity restrictions and museums, churches and places of worship, movie theaters, and restaurants can allow for 50 percent capacity. Hotel pools and gym pools can open and wineries, breweries, and distilleries can open indoors at 25 percent capacity and bars can open outdoors.
Carrigan also announced Kern County has paused its administration of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine as a result of 6 women across the nation who developed a “fairly severe” blood clot after receiving the J&J vaccines. The CDC and FDA recommended health officials pause the administration while the departments determine if the rare blood clots were a result of the J&J vaccine or if it was a coincidence.
Nearly 6.8 million people across the nation have been given the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, while 6 people have reported the blood clots.
Supervisors Phillip Peters asked Carrigan how the pause of the J&J vaccine will impact Kern’s vaccination efforts. Carrigan said it will only impact Kern by 3,000 vaccines this week.
“The vaccine is still one of the safest ways to build immunities against COVID-19,” said Carrigan. “Being vaccinated is still highly recommended.”
As of Sunday, 363,891 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines had been administered to Kern residents, while 136,032 residents have completed their vaccination series. This means 14.8 percent of Kern’s population has completed their vaccination series, according to Carrigan.
Kern is expected to received 25,310 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week, a decrease from last week. The entire state of California is experiencing a 33 percent decrease in vaccination allotment due to contamination issues at a Johnson and Johnson manufacturing site, resulting is 15 million doses being lost.
“If we continue at the rate we are going, it will take 37 weeks to get the rest of our 16 and older population vaccinated,” Carrigan said to the Board of Supervisors.
The County’s mass vaccination site at the Kern County Fairgrounds will open it’s drive thru operation Wednesday. Last week, the site administer more than 10,000 doses of the vaccine, and health officials anticipate administering more than 17,000 doses this week with the expansion of the drive thru operations.
Featured Photo by Henry Barrios for Kern Sol News