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Coronavirus at highest level in Kern County since early February

Coronavirus is spreading in Kern County at a rate not seen for months.

Over the last two weeks, an average 22.3 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported each day per 100,000 residents, according to data released by Kern County Public Health Services on Tuesday. That is the highest case rate since Feb. 10, when the county was recovering from the winter surge.

At that date, Kern’s case rate was 23.7 new cases per day per 100,000 residents and rapidly falling. Now, however, cases are rapidly increasing. Just two weeks ago, the county’s case rate was 6.6 new daily cases per 100,000 residents.

Still, coronavirus is much less widespread than it was at the peak of the winter surge in early January, when the case rate was around 97.7 new daily cases per 100,000 residents, according to state data.

The county is now reporting 8.2 percent of all coronavirus tests return positive results, up from 6.4 percent last week.

Unlike the winter surge, the coronavirus vaccine is protecting certain Kern County residents.

Since Jan. 21, 99.2 percent of all COVID-19 cases have been reported in unvaccinated individuals, according to KCPHS. The county has only recorded 11 hospitalizations for fully vaccinated individuals versus 1,481 for unvaccinated.

“Vaccination is the fastest, safest, most controlled setting in which we can develop immunity against COVID-19,” Brynn Carrigan, director of public health, said in a news release. “Masking, physical distancing, washing hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick or exposed, and staying in overall good health by eating well and regularly exercising are all layers of protection that we encourage our community to use to limit the transmission of COVID-19.”

As of Monday, 165 people in Kern County were hospitalized with COVID-19, and 35 were housed in intensive care units, a jump from a week earlier when 105 people were hospitalized.

Despite the effectiveness of the vaccine, less than half of Kern County residents have received a dose. So far, 43.5 percent of the county’s eligible population has been fully vaccinated, compared to 63.7 percent of the state’s overall population.

The resurgence of COVID-19 has increased interest in the vaccine. From Aug. 1 to Saturday, 11,170 vaccine doses were distributed in Kern County, an increase of 733 from the week before. KCPHS reports first dose administrations have increased by around 54 percent over the last three weeks.

KCPHS has begun reporting breakthrough cases on its website, kernpublichealth.com. The website showed on Tuesday, 181 instances of post-vaccine infections have been reported, 0.06 percent of the 22,207 total cases.

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