Kern County total cases and new cases-7.png

Four new deaths from COVID-19 and 50 new cases of the virus were reported by the Kern County Public Health Services Department on Thursday morning. Total deaths in the county now stand at 21 and cases have climbed to 1,403. 

In a nearly hourlong briefing, county officials touched on some of the major issues they are dealing with related to the virus.

NURSING HOMES

Public Health Services Director Matt Constantine said there have been two more deaths of residents at the Kingston Healthcare Center and an outbreak is now being monitored at a second skilled nursing facility, Valley Convalescent Hospital.

Nine residents and seven health care workers have tested positive at Valley Convalescent Hospital, which has 69 residents, Constantine said. The facility has notified the county that it is having staffing problems and requested assistance from the state and county to deal with the shortage.

At Kingston, which has 107 residents, Constantine said 67 residents and 49 health care workers have tested positive for the virus, and 11 of those residents have died. The state has extended the time it will keep a medical strike team at Kingston until May 24, Constantine said. The facility has told the county it is in the process of hiring 20 new staff members.

Constantine also said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has recently indicated it will provide a two-week supply of PPE for all 19 skilled nursing facilities in the county.

COUNTY VARIANCE TO ACCELERATE REOPENING 

Kern Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop said the county is unable to meet two metrics required by the state in order for businesses in the county to reopen sooner than in other hard-hit areas of the state. Those requirements are for Kern to have fewer than 90 new cases of COVID-19 in the prior 14 days, and no deaths in the same time period. 

The county had at least 300 new cases and 11 deaths in that time period, according to data it has made public.

Therefore, the county is instead asking the state to consider the rate of hospitalizations per day as a better indicator of its preparedness to reopen.

As of Thursday, about 40 people were hospitalized for the virus, county data showed.

"We believe consideration of a different methodology is something the governor needs to be considering," Alsop said.

Alsop said the recommendation came following a meeting between county leaders and all 10 hospitals and their top physicians in Kern.

COUNTY FISCAL SITUATION, WORKFORCE 

The county's fiscal health will be severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis as well as the spiraling drop in oil prices that have negatively impacted the local oil industry, Alsop said.

"We are projecting significant revenue shortfalls across all of our (county) units not only in this current fiscal year but in the subsequent fiscal years," Alsop said.

Alsop said the state is projecting a $54 billion budget shortfall, and that the county relies on funding that comes via the state and federal governments to provide some of its services. 

Recommendations for how to deal with the financial impact will be made at the Board of Supervisors' next meeting on Tuesday, Alsop said.

On Monday, the county will begin a phased effort to reopen and restart some of its services and bring back its 8,000-person workforce, most of which has been at home since the governor's shutdown orders took effect March 19. Alsop said the effort will take place over a number of weeks.

(23) comments

Zeppo

If everyone wore a mask, they should be allowed to open up.

Wretch

The reason the county withheld the information is simple. Look at the proud boy comments in this newspaper. No matter how many infections, how many deaths, these people will put their pride before their fall. When there were only 5 deaths it wasn't enough to be considered dangerous. now it's spread, it's killed twice as many as the oft repeated flu statistic. People don't want to hear the truth. They want to hear whatever they're told to think. They have insecurities about being weak. These adolescent insecurities are crippling society and they are so adolescent they want to blame the people trying to help. It's sad. A bunch of wanna be conservatives asking for more federal oversight. Begging for the president's approval. Bunch of GRAND OLD POSERS if you ask me.

Zeppo

Wretch: It's less than 1% of the population. More people die from heart attacks, flu, etc. This is more than likely being used to scare the population and to keep everyone locked down so when election time comes around, Trump can then be blamed for it. Also, the so-called "scientists" have their own agenda. Why is it that other countries, even in Europe are returning to normal (when they had the highest number of infected people) and not seeing a big uptake in cases? Don't always believe the "authorities." Look at the video by the two doctors in Bakersfield, then make your own conclusions.

RealPatriot

The “they are just trying to hurt Trump” excuse is just silly. Virtually every country in the world did some form of “lockdown”. More countries than not had a more draconian approach than the US.

Moardeeb

USA, 4% of the world's population.

USA, 30% of the world's covid deaths.

President Bodybags.

Claudia Keith

Two nursing homes have Covid19; however, more than half of those cases are STAFF! They leave the facility, go to grocery store. If we are going to ignore the growing number of cases in Kern County, at least require the use of face masks. Give it teeth so everyone must protect others they meet by wearing masks. If you want to open, the economy regardless do consequences, take that step at the very least.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

DWEEB, why do you insist on pasting the same lame post to multiple stories?

You do this all the time- are you getting paid per post by the DNC??

Gary Crabtree

So what you are saying is that because of Kingston Nursing Home, the rest of Kern County has to remain under "shelter in place"? My wife needs neurosurgery and we can't have it done because of Covid in one nursing home. [sneaky]

Comment deleted.
JR

Doesn't it all come down to the rugged individual that the US has always bragged about being? We're not sheep. We are free-thinkers and of course, anti-government. It's this "me against the world" nonsense that prevents some people from being smart and doing what's best for all of us, even if it does come from the government.

Unionpacific

I googled and got "Common Infections in Nursing Homes: A review of current issues and Challenges". I quote:

"Over 1.5 million people live in 16,000 nursing homes in the USA and experience an average of 2 million infections a year. Infections have been associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality, rehospitalization, extended hospital stay and substantial healthcare expenses....." Maybe the Media should report on all the deaths from all these illnesses common in nursing homes

JR

The important point that you may be missing, or I didn't see in your comment, is that coronavirus is extremely, and apparently, easily contracted from others. Whereas, other nursing home deaths are far less so or not at all.

Inconvenient Truth

Sorry, JR, you are wrong.

It's actually worse than Unionpacific says:

According to a study by UCSF and the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center, 53% of Nursing Home residents die after just 6 months. The median stay before death is 5 months! (Note that this was a 2010 study; long before Covid-19 existed.) They point out that “one quarter of all deaths in the United States occur in nursing homes, and that figure is expected to rise to 40 percent by the year 2020.”

Now that government health agencies are finally starting to release information to the public, It is becoming apparent that Nursing Home patients account for around half of all Covid-19 deaths. These are patients who, on average, would have been dead in 5 months even without Covid.

Finally, there appear to be two major strains of Covid: the West Coast strain that came directly from China, and the East Coast strain that came from Europe.

Three Eastern States: New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey account for more than half of all Covid deaths in the USA.

If you remove Nursing Home deaths, Covid in West Coast states causes far fewer deaths than the common flu.

But in the name of so-called ‘health experts’ we will destroy our country in order to save it.

äänestys sininen 2020

dude......so... you know that for sure.... that the two strains stayed on their assigned coasts....I think your making just making facts up cause your sad that we are in the mist of a real pandemic... one that has the potential of becoming an even bigger disaster......

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Yorkies- It appears at least some in the scientific community believe there are two strains...

I'll cut-and-paste just because I know how much you appreciate it:

From an article in New Scientist:

“There do appear to be two different strains,” says Ravinder Kanda at Oxford Brookes University in the UK. “[The L-type] might be more aggressive in transmitting itself, but we have no idea yet how these underlying genetic changes will relate to disease severity,” she says.

“I think it’s a fact that there are two strains,” says Erik Volz at Imperial College London. “It’s normal for viruses to undergo evolution when they are transmitted to a new host.”

Have an awesome day! :)

casones

But in the name of so-called ‘health experts’ we will destroy our country in order to save it. THE VIRUS IS DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY. HEALTH EXPERTS ARE TRYING TO SAVE IT. Ignorance and arrogance, leadership requirements of King Trump. "53% will die after 6 months." "What if it is the 47% who would have lived beyond the 6 months are the ones whom are dying now?" Your logic is insulting to all family members of nursing home residents across this nation.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Yes, but MRSA is extremely contagious as well and has a higher mortality rate (directly and through subsequent infections) than COVID-19...

Ledzepplin4800

Interesting in the beginning of all this as Kern county started it’s count the first couple of deaths one was in the Eastside one was on the west side one was in Ridgecrest and now we later learned that the first seven we’re all off of Reel Road why did the county withhold pertinent vital information to public health safety when they were fully aware of where those deaths were coming from and they withheld that from Kern County’s residence

JR

It's all comes down to money. That's what all this re-opening of businesses is all about.

RubySue

How do you survive without money?

Moardeeb

You survive without money the way Europe has. You make sure everyone gets paid and tell businesses they cant lay off employees. Europe is not seeing high unemployment. It's called leadership. They don't have a President Bodybags like we do.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Of course Dweeb- that's called Socialism.

Thanks for showing your true stripes...

shreded7

Government protects its citizens during times of crisis. At least that's their job. That's why I pay taxes: medicare, social security, general funds.

Lamonster

Sure, follow Europe's method and before you know it you're pushing a wheelbarrow full of marks, uh, uh euros to the store to buy a loaf of bread. Then somebody gets a better idea and finds a scapegoat and we know where that leads.

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.