Our Kern County District 4, the district where I am the county supervisor, was the focus of much of our county virus discussion this week, and the spread of the virus here will require a strong response from the county and its residents. As data was made available that District 4 communities had an unacceptably high concentration of positive tests, it is imperative that we work together to get the word out and to take action to stop the spread of the virus through our district.

Some good news: two District 4 communities, Delano and Arvin, have been chosen as new COVID-19 testing sites. Details are coming, but an important component of stopping the spread of the virus is to test, and by testing, we can know how severe it is in certain communities and then how to contain the spread. By adding testing sites in our district, it is hoped that we can better protect our residents as we better determine areas of virus concentration. Special thanks go out to Adventist Health/Delano Regional Medical Center who will be hosting the site in Delano. In Arvin, a site has also just been determined at 204 South Hill St. It opened Tuesday and will operate Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. We’ll let you know more details as soon as they are worked out.

Of course, no amount of testing will matter if people don’t understand that social distancing, not testing, is the key component of our response. When I hear that some communities are gathering, working closely together, not wearing masks and going about their business as usual, it comes as no surprise when the latest test results show that those communities are experiencing the greatest percentage of positive cases. In particular, I am talking about Arvin and Lamont. In response to that, my office is taking several steps to try to help. In addition to asking specifically for a testing site in Arvin or Lamont, we have ordered masks and have already delivered some, with more on the way, to the community leaders to give out to those in need. Stay tuned and when you get your mask, wear it in public, as it adds another layer of protection against this invisible enemy.

These masks will help but will not solve the problem. People need to better understand their responsibility to social distance, so we have been in touch with media contacts and have begun the process of distributing informational materials that will be distributed throughout these communities (much of this in Spanish) to emphasize the need for distancing. Our contacts at Univision have also been coordinating with us and others to help spread the word. The virus spreads through human to human transmission. We spread it by breathing too closely to others and by getting the virus on our hands and then touching other things that are then touched by other people. We can control this, first by distancing, and second, by frequent handwashing and, if necessary, by wearing gloves. And the best protection is to shelter at home, even keeping our distance from other family members if they, through their work or travels outside the home, are in contact with others.

Kern County is in charge of managing and protecting its residents, but we can’t without your help. While I wanted to ensure testing is being made available in Delano and in the Lamont/Arvin area, and while our Public Health Department is constantly monitoring and acting on the latest information, our county response will not be effective without the community’s commitment to protecting yourselves. So please join in this response. By working together, and by understanding and acting on the public health warnings we are receiving daily, we can flatten the curve, protect our vulnerable population and get to a new normal that hopefully will include our jobs back, food on our table, the health of all of our family members and a sense that by working together, we are able to beat this thing. We really can do this together.

Feel free to contact our District 4 office at district4@kerncounty.com or at 661-868-3680. Have a safe week.

David Couch represents Kern County’s Fourth District.

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