The numbers are not looking good for Kern County.
Four weeks since Kern moved into the red tier of the state's reopening plan — allowing modified indoor activities to resume at restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, churches and museums — an increase in new daily cases threatens to move the county back to the purple tier next week.
"We're very concerned," Kern County Public Health Services Director Matt Constantine said Monday, adding that he and other county leaders are anxiously awaiting the state's announcement Tuesday of the county's numbers.
To be sure, Kern is not alone. Cases are increasing across the nation and throughout California. In Los Angeles County, officials on Monday urged caution amid a new surge of infections there.
To stay in the red tier, a county must have no more than 7 new cases per 100,000 residents. Kern will likely exceed that on Tuesday with a raw total of 9.1 cases per 100,000 before adjustments made by the state (cases in prisons are subtracted and the rate is then adjusted upward if a county is not meeting testing goals).
Kern appears on track to exceed case rates next week as well with an anticipated unadjusted case rate of 10.1.
Counties are classified into tiers by the state each Tuesday based on three metrics: case rates, countywide test positivity and test positivity in a county's most disadvantaged census tracts. If case rates or countywide test positivity slip into a lower tier for two consecutive weeks, the county is moved back to the more restrictive tier. To advance to a less restrictive tier, all three measures must meet the thresholds for that tier.
During the seven-day period that ended Sunday, Kern County saw 657 new cases compared to 591 the week before and 468 two weeks before.
In the red tier, limited seating is allowed inside restaurants, and churches, movie theaters, gyms, museums and zoos may conduct limited indoor activities. In the purple tier, those business activities can only take place outdoors.
Several counties in the state have already been moved back to the purple tier.
Shasta County, for example, was moved back from the orange to the red tier on Oct. 5 and then from the red to purple tier on Nov. 3.
Tehama County moved from the red to purple tier on Oct. 5.