If Kern’s vaccination rates continue to remain low, new State model predicts ‘worst case scenario’ with another COVID-19 surge in early February

November 10, 2021 /

If Kern’s vaccination rates continue to remain low, Kern is expected to see another COVID-19 surge in early February, according to predictions from a new State model.

The worse case scenario, according to this model, anticipates Kern will see 1,414 daily cases of COVID-19 beginning Feb. 8, 2022 and 1,031 hospitalizations on Feb. 12, 2022. This is just one of the three potential scenarios outlined in the new model.

“It’s difficult to know which scenario we will tend with, but we do know that our vaccination and booster dose rates are relatively low, which would suggest, based on definition, that we will likely track along the worse case scenario,” Kern County Public Health Director Brynn Carrigan said at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

The State model breaks down the three scenarios by color. Green is the best case scenario, where vaccine efficacy increases by 20 percent. Purple is the moderate scenario, where vaccination efficacy remains stable, and teal is the worst case scenario, where vaccine efficacy against disease transmission decreases by 30 percent.

Carrigan said the Health Department anticipates some changes to what the model is predicting; however, the department is using the model as a planning tool to prepare for another potential surge.

As of Monday, 54.6 percent of Kern’s eligible population, with the exception of those 5 to 11 years of age, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Now that the vaccine is available to children 5 to 11 years of age, Kern’s overall vaccination rate will go down since the eligible population has expanded. This age group makes up an estimated 99,526 children in Kern County, according to Carrigan. Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced its recommendation that children 5 to 11 years old be vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer vaccine, only 593 children have been vaccinated in Kern since it was approved late Wednesday.

Kern’s seven-day average daily case rate was at 27.2 per 100,000 people as of Friday, which is up nearly five points from two weeks ago. As of Tuesday, there were 227 patients recovering from COVID-19 in local hospitals and 55 in Kern’s intensive care unit.

Data has shown unvaccinated Californians are 6.8 times more likely to get COVID-19 than vaccinated Californians, 9.5 times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than vaccinated Californians, and are 18.2 times more likely to die due to COVID-19 than vaccinated Californians.

The County is encouraging eligible residents to make an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at www.MyTurn.ca.gov. Eligible residents can get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Kern County Fairgrounds short-term clinic Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. This is a walk-up clinic, and the Pfizer vaccine is being administered.

Elizabeth Sanchez

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