20200506-bc-Hospital (copy) (copy)

In this file photo, a nurse retrieves a swab during a COVID-19 test outside Bakersfield Memorial. .

In the Kern River Valley, coronavirus testing peaked after Memorial Day, when a well-known member of the community contracted COVID-19.

“Everybody and their brother (came in),” said Tim McGlew, CEO of the Kern Valley Healthcare District. “We were up probably well over 100, 120 a day immediately for probably two or three weeks after that.”

The relatively low-populated area around Isabella Lake had been seeing around 70 people coming in to get tested when the Kern Valley Hospital held the free testing days. The surge lasted for several weeks before dying down, McGlew said.

Now, on the one day of the week the hospital holds coronavirus tests, around 20 people come in.

“It’s anybody’s guess why that’s happening,” McGlew said of the decrease in demand for tests, “but my guess is that maybe people are feeling that this thing has passed.”

The decline around Isabella Lake has been mirrored throughout Kern County, vexing public health officials and thwarting efforts to meet new state requirements to ease business restrictions.

“Maybe people are thinking maybe it’s not as serious as they made it out to be,” McGlew continued, while noting the virus is, indeed, a very serious illness under certain circumstances. “It’s kind of hard to know what’s going through people’s minds.”

Understanding the reason why less people are getting tested became more important for Kern officials after Gov. Gavin Newsom changed the metrics by which a county’s coronavirus spread is measured. Under a system unveiled last week, counties are penalized if their rate of residents getting tested falls below the state average. In Kern County, that means a case rate of 7.8 people testing positive for coronavirus over a seven day period per 100,000 residents is artificially bumped up to 9.2.

That’s bad news for county residents who want Kern to drop from the most restrictive of the state’s four COVID-19 tiers into the third and below. In order to do so, the county will need to drop below 7 cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period.

For a county that's experiencing dropping levels of COVID-19 and was closing in on meeting the state’s previous criteria — which included hospital capacity — the change has been frustrating.

“When the major measurement of our ability to reopen was hospital capacity, we poured tens of millions of dollars and tons of energy into making sure we had hospital capacity. And we did that,” said Supervisor Mike Maggard, who is on a county coronavirus task force. “As the goalpost has moved each time, we’re bouncing from thing to thing to make sure we’re covered.”

But, he said, the county has a plan to increase testing throughout Kern, and do it quickly.

With only the Good Samaritan Hospital in Oildale providing free tests to the entire metro Bakersfield area, the county plans to open a handful of additional testing sites in the area in less than 30 days. Other parts of the county have adequate coverage, Maggard said.

Also, county officials hope to switch the method of testing a nasal swab to a mouth swab, which Maggard said is less intrusive and could be done more quickly.

The third aspect of the county’s plan is to encourage its own employees to get tested, as well as the employees of other major employers. By doing so, the county could see large swaths of local residents go in for testing, which could ensure workplaces are safe and bump up the county’s numbers.

It appears Kern County has a long way to go to reach the state’s average. As it stands this week, Kern County tested 126 residents per 100,000 for COVID-19 while the state as a whole tested 217.9.

Still, Maggard expressed hope that the county could meet the state’s goals.

“We’ve demonstrated that we can hit the mark,” he said, “but they keep moving the bar on us.”

Sam Morgen can be reached at 661-395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @smorgenTBC.

Recommended for you

(28) comments

The new comment

The fact is hospitals are paid to find people who test Covid-19 and link it to deaths. Regardless of the fact that the positive test is asymptomatic and the deaths are caused by some other co-morbidity. Follow the money people.....

https://www.factcheck.org/2020/04/hospital-payments-and-the-covid-19-death-count/

Masked 2020

"reflexive individualism disconnected from the common good. What I’m calling folk libertarianism.." ...." a debilitating pre-existing condition in his coalition" ........ Some who found it obtuse asked a reasonable question: Does it matter if we could somehow rigorously establish that instead of being responsible for 140,000 out of our 190,000-and-counting American dead, Trump’s bungling is “only” responsible for 30,000 of the fallen? That’s still a dreadful figure, and in the midst of an electoral referendum on his leadership, the brute fact of presidential failure is all we need to know. Framed this way, the debate over Trump’s coronavirus culpability resembles other debates in the Trump era, dividing those who treat the president’s incompetence or malice or authoritarianism as an emergency that throws every other problem into shadow from those who think that the trends that gave us Trump are still the more important forces and that the president himself captures too much of our attention. Since I’m a card-carrying member of the latter club, let me suggest a few realities that become visible if you look at America’s pandemic response through a wider lens than just, “Trump lied, people died.” The first thing you see is that some failures in the American response are less about the president’s specific faults and more about a debilitating pre-existing condition in his coalition — a folk-libertarian hostility to all federal policymaking, a reflexive individualism disconnected from the common good. What I’m calling folk libertarianism (to distinguish it from the more academic sort) is deeply American, not just conservative, and its present expression has many antecedents in our history (there were anti-mask leagues during the Great Influenza). And some of its impulses are healthy curbs against public-health overreach and local tyranny.

Veritas

You know yuckies, I guarantee you don’t even understand any part of what you cut and pasted this time. You might want to get help from one of your orderlies before you c&p next time.

Moardeeb

The media keeps making a big deal about Trump supporters not wearing masks or social distancing at his events, like today in Nevada? I say ignore it. I'm all for Trump supporters not wearing masks or social distancing. The gene pool will certainly improve!😄😜😄😛

Masked 2020

As the US enters its first coronavirus winter …… The US announced its first death from the coronavirus in February. Donald Trump predicted it would be over by Easter – that hope was pushed back to summer as deaths and infections soared. Seven months on, the US is still not on course to control the pandemic. Soon Covid-19 will have accounted for 200,000 deaths, and reported cases have already reached 6m. By 1 January, the US coronavirus death toll could reach over 410,000 according to a forecast by researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). Researchers said the projection is based on the “rollercoaster” of cases in the US, where governments and individuals take up protective measures when things get bad, then let them slide when the local situation improves, potentially restarting the cycle all over again….don't you just love The Guardian…its so dramatic

Masked 2020

Hospitals in England are conducting “major incident” stress tests on wards to check if they are ready for a second wave of Covid-19, as the number of admissions begins to climb.

Coronavirus cases have been doubling roughly every seven days and there are signs the increase is beginning to filter through to hospitals.

The Independent Voter

Guess masks in England didn't work.

mrdwm1

If I have no symptoms, and have no knowledge of being exposed recently to someone who does have symptoms, what would be the purpose of my being tested? If I test negative today, does that mean I can't get it if I'm exposed next week?

What a ridiculous load of gubmint poppycock!

Lilyrose

" A new study published Friday is the latest linking pollution exposure to a greater risk of dying from the coronavirus.

The study published by IOP found that an increase in the concentration of multiple pollutants from a class known as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) was associated with a 9 percent increase in COVID-19 mortality.

The study also linked diesel exhaust, soot and smog, as well as substances known as naphthalene and acetaldehyde on their own, to increased coronavirus mortality rates.

Low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to live in areas with greater pollution rates and have also been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic."

And people wonder why Kern has high numbers.

Veritas

The environmental research letter you are talking about has not been through any type of peer review. It also states long term exposure to HAPs ‘might’ lead to severe outcomes. They also state there were a number of limitations to their study that makes it little more than saying it is a strong possibility. Pollution has an effect on healthy people as well as those that are not, you don’t need a study to know that. This study is nothing more than a few researchers justifying getting a pay check for a couple of months.

Bodysnatcher

No, lilyweed, only you wonder.

RuthTisdale

Having the free testing sites will hopefully encourage people to test since most of the medical providers aka Kaiser and other HMOs will not even test if a person has symptoms. They are only testing if a person becomes extremely ill. A ge the culture within the medical community and we just might get the numbers testing that we need.

VoteTrumpOut

It's Odd Kern surprassed Fresno, however. Seems like they're mrore conservatuve as well.

The Independent Voter

So force tests, the bulk of which could asymptomatic or the most mild symptoms - throw in some false positives for fun - and we are STILL not meeting The Guv's metrics. Nevermind people could self-quarantine to avoid spread of a virus lacking lethality for the majority. We're STILL locked down. Can it be anymore obvious that the goal is to KEEP US locked down until an unspecified time that only The Guv and his cronies are privy to? The established metrics are self-defeating with a built-in failsafe to keep a county under lockdown if the residents get wise and stop rushing in to get tested. Sinister.

VoteTrumpOut

Do you really think it's in anyone's best interest to keep people locked? Blame yourself, your stupidity, and your liar in chief's stupidity and playing down of COVID-19. If you people didn't vote for Trump, we'd never be in this mess. 200K deaths; we're on track to reach millions in 2021, long after Trump has left behind severe damage, if he loses. If you Trumpites just used a brain for once, perhaps we'd be fine. Also, COVID-19 has approached 3% mortality rate (averaged) in the USA; 3% of over 300M people is 9 million people that can die if COVID-19 achieves 100% infection of everyone.

The Independent Voter

Oh, God, another one. VoteTrumpOut, eh? Okay, let's try this again with a new contestant. How is Trump responsible for a single death? Describe for me the steps Trump failed to take to secure the country against this scamdemic. Explain for me the inconsistencies in lockdown mandates, such as protests okay, church with precautions not. Gyms closed to all but government elite. No haircuts except for Pelosi. Why release prisoners instead of offering them masks and restricting to their cells? Justify Newsom's ever-changing and unattainable metrics goals. Why are less-restrictive states faring as well, if not better, than Commie states like California or New York?

Gene Pool Chlorinator

100% infection rate is a ridiculous assumption.

Even the Spanish Flu (which everyone loves to perform comparisons to) only had a 28% infection rate in the US.

You also have no idea what would happen to the mortality rate in the future- this isn't a constant, you can't just simply divide and assume. We have no idea how many people have actually been infected, therefore, it's impossible to determine the actual mortality rate- your denominator is an unknown. All of this is computer modeling, and we've seen (on numerous occasions) the models have been all across the board when it comes to accuracy...

Moardeeb

I'll tell you why its happening! What's tge point of being tested if it takes 2 weeks to get the results?

Trump admitted he lied, PEOPLE DIED! Bin Laden 5,000 eventual deaths from 9/11. Trump 200,000 deaths. More Americans have died this year from the coronavirus than died in World War I due to the absolutely catastrophic failure of leadership from Donald Trump and the Republican Senate.  Twice the Americans dead than the number of fatalities in the Vietnam War. 200,000 grieving families! There's a word for that massive loss of life: unacceptable. The majority of Republicans, 63% say it's ok they died. Its "acceptable." That is outrageous! Republicans, what has happened to your humanity? You were enraged when 3,000 Americans died on 9/11. I know Covid is not a Muslim you can hate on, but when did you lose your compassion for your fellow Americans? How about your fellow Republicans that have died? Nothing? Shame on you. I no there is no reasoning with you, you are too indoctrinated. I've just decided to chalk it up to Stockholm Syndrome.

Churchillis1

Blah blah blah. New day, same old Trump Derangement syndrome. Your moronic leaders were out celebrating “come on out to Chinatown,” and calling Trump a racist for stopping Chinese from coming into the country.

Go away. I hear Portland has some great properties newly for sale.

VoteTrumpOut

@Churchills, wrong. Trump is the enemy, and you continually blaming the left for their inability to persuade you dumbknuck Trumpites to vote him out is unreasonable.

Take action Now

Life is a two way street. The Democrats could have also taken more action! This a overall lack of politicians doing their job. They are all corrupt- help their rich business friends with tax breaks and raise taxes on the working class. Hope all you youngsters will still have Social Security when you turn 70 . Don’t worry about your politicians they have their special health care and retirement programs.

Anyone ever wonder why we don’t have a 3 or 4 party system. Why don’t we have 3 or maybe 4 people running for President. At least that way we could have the good,the bad and the ugly. LOL

VoteTrumpOut

@Take Action now, you are utterly wrong. You're blaming the democrats for a Republican Senate, Republican DOJ, a Republican President, and countless of Republican officials and governors incompetence? Oh my, might as well blame COVID-19 on the democrats for losing the 2016 election.

The Independent Voter

You seriously overlook Cuomo and deBlasio, VoteTrumpOut? Funny, I don't see blinders on in that little avatar if you, but sure seems you do. Look, you lose all credibility when you fail to even acknowledge that a single Democrat just MAYBE could have possibly made just the TINIEST of errors resulting in MAYBE just one or two itty bitty little inconsequential deaths.

The Independent Voter

Dweeb is now a troll. A bonafide message board troll.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@TIV: If TBC mods were doing their jobs, he wouldn't be getting away with that, but since he can, he will... EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

Boris25

Mostdumb, It's important to understand radical left tactics. When radical leftists say; "the debate is over", or "it's settled science" or anything along those lines, what they are really saying is "we have made up our minds, to fit our agenda, and no amount of facts or evidence to the contrary will change that, and we will belittle or destroy anyone who says otherwise."

VoteTrumpOut

You are absolutely mentally stunted. Republicans have forgone facts ever since they put Trump on the pulpit; Trump was caught admitting that COVID-19 was a big threat long before it struck the US; you ought to know that your liar in chief cares only about himself.

VoteTrumpOut

I always laughed when i watched that one "America fk yeah movie"; in which the characters kept talking about 9/11 times 100, or 1000, or so on. Here we are, approaching 9/11 times 100; then 1000, and even 10,000 (30 million deaths; 10% mortality rate)

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.