The Kern County Public Health Services Department has responded to a city of Taft plan to reopen businesses next Monday.

The health department says the city does not have the authority to let nonessential businesses open to the public, opening the door to a conflict if the city goes through with its plans.

“We are sympathetic to our businesses and want them to be able to open as soon as possible; however, we are required to operate in accordance with the governor’s orders,” public health spokeswoman Michelle Corson wrote in an email, referring to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 19 stay-at-home order. “We share the sentiment and frustration with our local cities; however, opening up businesses that are not on the governor’s list of critical essential infrastructure is not a decision that can be made by the county and the individual cities.”

After the Taft City Council voted during a special meeting Monday to send Public Health Director Matt Constantine a letter asking for guidance in developing safety guidelines for barbershops, hair salons, and other small businesses deemed nonessential by the state, the city seemed poised to flout social distancing guidelines. However, the county health department said Newsom would need to amend or lift his order before local jurisdictions would be allowed to do so.

Other cities throughout the county did not appear swayed by Taft’s actions, with many saying they would follow the health department's guidance.

Delano City Manager Maribel Reyna said the city had no plans to reopen and would continue to follow the governor’s and county’s orders.

Interim McFarland City Manager Larry Pennell said he participated in daily conference calls with the health department, along with biweekly calls with all the county's city managers, but that the city would abide by the stay-at-home order.

"As frustrating as it is, no specific date can yet be announced," he wrote in an email. "Be assured that the entire City Council is mindful of the hardships being suffered by our residents and we will return to 'new normal' operations as soon as it is safe."

The city of Bakersfield is also waiting for the county health department’s directive.

“The city recognizes that many businesses are eager to see the temporary measures currently in place to keep the public as safe as possible lifted soon,” city spokesman Joe Conroy wrote in an email. “We are also eagerly awaiting that time.”

Tehachapi spokesman Key Budge similarly maintained the city’s commitment to following the health department.

“There’s definitely people out in the community, if you watch on social media, they want America to reopen. But it’s not our call,” he said. “This is coming from the federal government, the state government, and at the county level. We here at the city are waiting for that direction.”

Only Ridgecrest appeared willing to consider an alternate path. Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden said the city would hold a virtual town hall Wednesday to listen to residents’ concerns before coming up with any potential reopening plans.

Kern County supervisors have established a task force designed to give guidance on which businesses are allowed to be open, and which procedures businesses should follow once coronavirus prevention measures are lifted.

At a news conference Tuesday, Newsom said the state was "weeks, not months away" from making meaningful changes to the stay-at-home order.

Once lifted, local officials hope the economy can be rebooted in an efficient and safe manner.

“While we must not jeopardize the health and lives of those we represent, we must be prepared to reopen the economy when it is safe to do so,” Corson said. “We want businesses to open safely and responsibly when the governor lifts his orders.”

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

(32) comments


The whole idea of social distancing is simple.

Get to the point that every infected person is infecting LESS than one other person. Then, you can track it, and squash it.

By staying home you help that.

This virus, when left unchecked, infects 3 people for every 1 person infected. THAT is how you destroy your economy. THAT is how you overwhelm your health care system.

Use your brains people.

All Star

Are you going to troll ALL the threads on here and copy and paste this same comment over and over again?

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Yes, that's exactly what he does- it's as if he's paid per post...

Independent Voter

Say, did you all hear that they've had amazing success treating COVID-19 patients with this revolutionary drug they've been testing for quite some time now - on patients with the flu! Article currently posted in the State News section. Imagine that! Does this mean COVID is kind of like, uhhh, the flu? The public and media were suckered big time - just rolled over.


So I see today, as a result of opening up 2 weeks ago, Germany has had an increase in new cases. Logic dictates uh yeah....


How many mayors and local governments have proclaimed their areas sanctuary cities and ignored state and federal laws? Hmm? Why not do the SAME THING and ignore non voted on ideas of the left? I'm all for it.

äänestys sininen 2020

just not sure that when towns throw the big party.... folks will want to attend... maybe once the national death count stops climbing.....its a Heck of a Flu we got.... guess its Karma

My thoughts

People are not listening there is no enforcement, no consequences and even though the numbers are slowly growing THEY ARE going up. There is 63 cases of children under 17 and yet I see kids still at the parks. No face mask on 1/2 the workers in Walmart and other essential businesses and I don't know how a bar and vape shops are allowed to stay open. I want to get back to the norm as much as everyone else but I bet our numbers will go up again today at 10


Do not be allow the State to keep you down & held hostage. It’s time for business & people to get back out. The REAL NEWS is that people ARE already out & doing business; the difference is that they are starting to develop as “black market” style transactions that cannot be policed or controlled. WE THE PEOPLE CANNOT ALLOW THIS!! DO NOT OBEY the State or Federal Government! Reopen, be safe, be observant & maintain social distancing, but REOPEN! Down with draconian leftist power politics. Fight Back!


Dude who are you fighting? The virus is the enemy, not your fellow Americans. Leftists like to shop too.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Deeb- at least TRY to be honest...

According the majority of your posts, evil "Boomer Rubes" (Republicans, for those that don't understand DweebSpeak) are the enemy- not the virus itself.


MoreDumb would know what Leftists are doing.


It is because of people like you who have defiantly refused to follow the advice of knowledgeable sources and medical professional. You walk around the town without face masks or other protective gear thinking that you can do anything you want. You are arrogant, selfish and irresponsible. It is because of people like you who have caused a continuance of the necessity to keep us safe. I am tired of this isolation, stay at home quarantine. I did my patriotic duty by sacrificing my liberties to help restrict the spread of this Covid19. But I, as well as millions of other conscientious citizens, am now being penalized and punished because of those who were too irresponsible in doing what was right in the first place for the betterment of all. President Trump’s irresponsible actions of self concerns have led millions of his followers to believe that this pandemic is nothing but a “Hoax” or not necessary. His irresponsible actions have indirectly caused hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths. When will the righteous of our society stand up and demand that the violators of this concern be punished. Why should the ones who abided by required strict separation be subjected to being infected and possible death by such blatant abuse by such inconsiderate people. Those inconsiderate and irresponsible people should be held responsible if they arrogantly infect others because of their selfishness. It’s called involuntary manslaughter.


@Jay - you know, if you had just left the partisan blame game out, the rest of what you wrote most would have no issue with. You’re scared and you’re following government directives, ok. But, involuntary manslaughter? Should have left that one out because that part of your comment makes you look silly.


Actually, when Trump suggested people drink or inject disinfectants I heard manslaughter mentioned by more than one person.


@Moardeeb, since you didn't actually hear Trump suggest any such thing how can you be sure you didn't just imagine hearing "manslaughter"?

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@Veritas - agreed, that's where the wheels fell off of the apple cart for me as well...

Where we should all be coming together to fight a common enemy, there are still hyperpartisans (on both sides) that think it best to fight among themselves.

There will be plenty of time after this is over to second, third and fourth guess the actions of MANY people and organizations, but how about dropping the blame game until people stop dying? Let's root for the home team- lives do depend on it...


What world do you live in? Stay-at-home, shelter-in-place, social distancing, does not affect your ability to listen. (Unless your facemask is on wrong) Mcconnell, Trump, Scalise, Mccarthy are all playing the blame game. Thank God for Cuomo who shut these republicans UP! By the way, what is McCarthy doing? Besides kissing King Trump's and princess McConnell's back side? California is a so-called "blue state" with "sanctuary cities". Bakersfield is in California. Bakersfield and Kern County are put on notice. Initiate layoffs, furloughs, city and county services, because you have a weak Congressman.


I live in the real world casone. I said nothing about Trump or McCarthy or any other specific politician. Cuomo is the leader of the worst state in the Union on how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled, but canonize him because you favor liberal Democrats if that’s your cup of tea. I am neither a democrat or a republican, but I will tell you nutballs like you are giving liberal dems a similar reputation as Trump for saying stupid comments and spreading false information. But you keep on going just like he does and the rest of us will continue to shake our heads when you do.


Are you sure you want to criminalize human behavior?


Make that "normal human behavior".


Like King Trump said, he could shoot someone on fifth avenue and not get arrested. I won't argue whether the King can commit a criminal act. However, the King is subject to civil litigation and there are multiple "Wrongful Death" lawsuits in the preliminary stages. Thank God, (Whom is the higher power). Let's see, King Trump has filed bankruptcy 5 times, bankrupted Atlantic City and now has bankrupted the United States. Finally, the Trump kingdom will collapse with over 10,000 wrongful death lawsuits!


It is fascinating to consider a mayor or Health Department person can "proclaim" the law. Basic high school civics and Sesame Street type How a Bill becomes Law kind of stand in the face of "Mayor/ Health Department official declares legal rights." On the other hand, if a police officer is going to arrest you, knowledge of the law is less important than physical authority/ power.



Independent Voter

I recommend cities evaluate the current environment and do what is necessary to enact changes in the existing hierarchy or, even better, seek to strip certain executive powers from the governor. If Michigan can pursue it, why not California? Now that "officials" see how easy it is to shut things down and wreck havoc with communities, they will do it again and again.


Why do you want to put your health and the health of your family and friends in unnecessary danger? Is it your macho man stance - "Nobody tells me what to do!"

Independent Voter

No, JR, it is my God-given common sense and practical accounting of the numbers provided that tells me what to do. 5 deaths with more than half those infected recovered here in Kern County. We're STILL not matching the lethality here of the flu. You make your choice to cower - your decision and I respect that. But the rest of us healthy, low-risk members of the community are ready to get things moving. If you are still sheltering and protecting yourself, why is my business any of your concern?


There is a vaccine for the flu. If only 40% wish to obtain it and the rest risk dying that is their choice. This virus has a much higher mortality rate and their is no treatment.



The Governor has no constitutional right to make people go under, basically, "house arrest" and to stay in their homes. As long as people wear masks, there should be no problem. We are not cattle to be herded. This isn't "1984"...….yet.


OK, Zeppo. All the virologists and medical researchers and renowned health professionals in the world can't agree on anything regrading the coronavirus except wear a mask and stay inside. But you, in Bakersfield, know the answer.


Stay in your home then, and don't come out until every last person with the virus has conquered it, and if a flu emerges, go back and stay at home.


I beg to differ Z. It already is “1984” in Cali. A beacon of dystopianism.

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