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In this file photo, Respiratory therapist Olivia Luevano checks a patient's records before entering the room in Bakersfield Memorial Hospital's COVID-19 ICU.

Despite the sudden decrease in daily reported coronavirus cases, the Kern County Public Health Services Department still sees warning signs that a surge in COVID-19 infections persists locally.

Even as San Diego County has been taken off a state monitoring list — and with other California counties on the verge of making their own exit — Kern’s own metrics betray a stubbornly high number of infections even as daily totals have reduced.

The health department has been carefully watching Kern’s progress, which could have significant implications on the general public as only those counties that are off the state’s watchlist can reopen schools without a waiver.

Kern’s test positivity rate, considered an indication of how many active cases are present within a community, remains far above the state’s acceptable level. During a news conference on Thursday, Public Health Services Director Matt Constantine said Kern’s test positivity rate was greater than 20 percent, more than twice the state’s required level of 8 percent needed in order to be taken off the watch list.

The test positivity rate indicates the proportion of tests given out over a period of time that returned positive coronavirus results. Health experts say a high positivity rate suggests a high level of community transmission and indicates the need for more testing and other measures.

The case rate, too, which compares the number of infections to the overall population, is about 307 per 100,000 residents, more than three times higher than the state’s metrics allow for counties off the watchlist.

“We strive toward meeting those metrics, with some anticipation that that would then allow us at some future time to reopen businesses, to show the governor and the state that we have made improvements,” Constantine said. “Clearly we have some work to do, but I think we are moving in the right direction.”

The decline in reported daily cases has come at the same time as a decline in overall testing, Constantine added. The county announced Thursday that all of its testing sites were reporting low wait times.

“So if you have not been tested and were concerned previously that there was a long wait time, know that that number has come down,” county spokeswoman Megan Person said during the meeting.

Still, local hospitals continue seeing a surge in hospitalizations related to the coronavirus. Even as more nurses arrive from outside the region to help with shortages in staffing, the county continues to struggle with its intensive care unit capacity.

Only 17.7 percent of the county’s total ICU beds are open, under the 20 percent required by the state.

“The model still shows that cases will continue to rise through February of next year and then slowly subside going into the summer,” Constantine said when asked if the county was cautiously optimistic about the decline in daily reported cases. “We’re hopeful that the model can be changed and perhaps we can influence it more, but it’s really too early to draw any sort of conclusion to this point. And we continue to prepare for what the model has been predicting so we are ready to assist.”

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

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(25) comments


The ol Trump curse. I guess Kellyanne is getting away from the loser before she gets locked up with the rest of the sheep.


Maybe the fact that people here only get tested when they actually have symptoms leads to the high positive testing rate. And the fatality rate is minuscule. And I'll bet on November 4th Covid will be gone quicker than a bottle of vodka in front of Nancy Pelosi.


@mrknow zip, you and your ilk are calling the Kung Flu the Trump virus after your queen Pelosi referred to it as such. Again, you are either a mental giant or you’re suffering mad cow disease. I say it’s the later.. Bless your heart.


Now, now Bodysnatcher. Mrlostitall is a retired KC firefighter who graduated from MIT. In his world of delusion, he does know it all...😉


GCP, obviously you have very little knowledge of political norms and political history, so let me try to school you. Eisenhower suffered politically due to Civil Rights Movement even though it predated his administration. JFK got blamed for Bay of Pigs even though military plans were decided by previous administration....GW Bush got blamed for OBL even though the Clinton administration had him in their sights. Trump is responsible because it happened on his watch. Be honest, if HR Clinton was President when this happened you would be all over her with blame. That is history. This happened under Trump and he gets the blame unless he deals with it as a Lincoln or Roosevelt did. But he hasn’t and if you and other Trumpster’s don’t see that then I feel sorry for you because you have drank the Kool-aid and have lost your ability to reason. He still doesn’t have a plan, how 😞


Calling others Trumpsters is very revealing in your comments. The fact is Trump isn’t to blame any more than you or I, so let’s drop the passive political attack. Anyone who completely relies on the government, other than the infirmed, are already lost. It’s comical how the left lost their minds when president Trump halted travel to/from China. He was called a racist and xenophobic, but he was proven right again. Aren’t you Trump haters tired of losing yet?


So your logic says vote for Biden even though it's not Trump's fault? Interesting.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@Trich: I have no idea where to start with your inane comments. I am VERY versed in history- much likely more than you.

Guess you have a different definition of "responsible" than I do. Your buddy Moardeeb has blamed Trump for the virus and Yorkies even constantly refers to is as the "Trump Virus", both of these are factually incorrect.

And, NO, unlike hardcore partisans like yourself, I wouldn't falsely blame Clinton for something that originated in China- why would that be her (or Trump's) fault?

LOL at calling me a "Trumpster". I think other posters would LOL as well- I've never carried water for POTUS and have called him out on a number of occasions. I just don't believe in being intellectually lazy and assigning blame where it doesn't belong.

No plan? We will likely have a vaccine for the virus in the fastest period of time in history, but people like you are probably rooting against the companies currently in late-stage testing because Trump might actually get the credit (like you mentioned in your failed "history lesson" above...


If there are 27,658 "positive cases"...and 9,536 "recovered cases"... what happened to the other 18,122 cases that that leaves?


Dead or currently recovering at home or in a hospital.

The Independent Voter

More BS about the hyperflu .

Masked 2020

yes.... a county full of stubbornly high Trumpeophils.....believing a plague pandemic is only the minor flu....a recipe for disaster.........Vote BidenHarris 2020 and get off the crazy train.....mask up ...be safe...


Join Biden for the next 4 years so we can all take a nap with him and let Kammy, Pelosi, and Schummer run the country?? You forgot to take your meds again.


So New York/New Jersey are now Trumpophiles? Considering the account for about 40% of the nation's deaths, by your logic they'd have to be.

Gary Crabtree

How stupid. The constant reporting by TBC leads to the conclusion that the KCHD is run by neanderthals from the dark ages. Why did not we purchase the testing equipment necessary to stay on top of this pandemic? The county keeps moaning about their pension funds and the city's 1% sales tax is being spent like drunken sailors. Where have Mr. McCarthy and Cox been during all of this. Oh! I forgot, they are vacation.


Well Crabtree, your comment bounces all over the proverbial spectrum other than making a single point. How sad.


What the heck are you talking about?

James Rinkevich

The county and state are at fault for not having an in county lab do the PCR tests. One ddPCR machine can do 384 tests in about 45 minutes. The county steadfastly refused to get one since at least mid April. When the backlog was ten days, no real contact tracing or quarantining could be done. The cases spiraled out of control because of that. Now no one want to find out since they know they might recover before the results are back.


Even if you did effective contract tracing I'm not sure Kern residents would do the right think and quarantine. A lot of Trump cultists here.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Yeah Dweeb the "Trump cultists" are responsible for the high numbers.

Here are some facts for you off of the COVID-19 Dashboard from Kern Public Health...

Confirmed COVID cases for Hispanics are four times that of whites, and 130 of the 229 deaths are Hispanics as well.

Guess according to your logic, Kern County Hispanics have jumped on the Trump Train because you (and your partner in insanity, Yorkies) continue blaming Trump supporters for our increasing numbers?

I called for more outreach to the Hispanic community early on (based on numbers) and you (among others) called me a racist.

Since you appear to have so much free time, maybe you could actually do some real research and quit being a bumper sticker...


The disproportionate number of minorities is due to the fact that THEY are doing the high-risk dirty work. Processing plants, slaughterhouses, field work ( and many unsophisticated on guidelines—KC did not and does not send health workers to warn and educate on virus). Mindset much like the Dudt Bowl itinerant farm Boyz from Oklahoma and Arkansas. The difference is that the Farm Boyz have been here for a generation and remain ignorant and stubborn—this the horrid situation KC has now. The Constantine cat needs to be fired. All he’s done is —nothing. Zip. Nada. To curry favor with the KC officials and Good Old Boyz A ton of ignorance at our ‘leadership’ levels. Can’t understand the science so they just preach “free choice”. Great job. Look what you have wrought. I TOLD ya. Bako. #1. Just as I predicted. If anyone has rebuttal—please look in mirror YOU and your attitudes caused this. lol your wife and kids in the eye—then drop your heads in shame. I’ll pray for you. Sheeesh. So EZ. But no. “Let’s follow the leader Who would NEVER break bread with folks like y’all. Ever”. Karma. Embrace it. Lol


So, in your mind every death from Covid is a Trump supporter or due to a Trump supporter? You’re such a mental gigantopithecus.


They are now calling it The Trump Virus. Should play strongly in the media and also get depp under his thin-skin. Lol. Not every feath is Trump's fault. Specifiacally he bears responsiblity for the 6 weeks immediatley following the 'all hands on deck' warning every American recognized as the virus being serious. Trump di nothing. Zip. Nada. He froze. That caused 30k deaths and a couple hundred thousand needless infections. And now we learn that even if you get covid and are assymptomatic-- 20-40% of all infected--5M at last count-- can look forward to having heart inflammation and other very serious organ compications. So he has blood on his hands as well as the huge medical bills that will come due not to mention the agony, pain, and suffering looming for those who get hit with residual damage. But The unstable sub-grade moron Trump insisted his minions go 'maskless'. How retarded was that? Now-- 90 days from eviction he syas' I have one in my pocket". Lol. Now all of a sudden--90 days out from election he suddenly wants to stop the shootings in Chicago. He had 31/2 years--NOW he is concerned. Lol. The post office was in ruins for 31/2 years. NOW--90 days out he suddenly wants to re-vamp. Lol. 90 days out--NOW he suddenly wants to send in 1,000 agents nationwide to 'help with crime". No help for 31/2 years, but suddenly he's Helpful Harry". Hey-- The people aren't as dumb as the zombies that are following him blindly. The poor uneducated are his base--there is a reason for that. They are uneducated. Lol.


Sure. Let's shut everything down and send everyone home. We dont need to work cuz the money fairy will come pay our bills for us. Right?


Bills to be paid. Means nothing if health lost. Jobs come n go your life is a one time offer. Can always make more $. USA won’t let u starve we’re wealthy. Subsidize—then when virus vaccine lands we open up full blast. Duhh so EZ. But no—follow the red wig lying adulterer. Like he really thinks n cares about YOU. Lol. Do silly

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