Kern County officials are worried about a novel coronavirus surge, as the number of reported cases over the last several days has increased and crowds of protesters take to the streets in close proximity to one another.
While Kern County Public Health Services reported last week the county had averaged 43 cases per day, over the last two days the department said the county’s total had increased by 177, more than double the average.
Kern County Public Health Director Matt Constantine said during a Monday press conference the county hasn’t been able to pinpoint a cause for the increase.
“As COVID runs through our community, we expect there will be variations in the numbers,” he said. “It is a really good reminder that we all have an individual responsibility to protect ourselves and to take action. This is the only way we’re going to be able to flatten the curve. So as we see that number increase, we should all remember that there is more that we can do to protect ourselves, and our family, and our grandparents, and our parents, and our neighbors. That action makes an impact, not only on those cases, but more importantly on our hospitals and our ability to care for those that really are in need.”
As more businesses reopen and counties throughout the state begin to move into Stage 3 of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-part reopening plan, local officials acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 cases could increase, while saying they were ready for the potential uptick.
Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop encouraged the public to continue maintaining social distancing, saying more coronavirus cases could impact the county’s ability to reopen.
“We need the public’s help in adhering to guidelines, practicing social distancing doing the things that we’ve been talking about really forever. It’s very important that we continue to do that,” he said. “If we see changes that are disrupting our pattern of readiness to serve in our hospitals, if we see any negative change in our ability to contain, test, be ready — any of those — it could impact our ability to get more fully open, and certainly impact the potential to reopen in Stage 3.”
Officials didn’t directly address the protests that have taken place in recent nights in downtown Bakersfield in response to the death of Minnesota man George Floyd while in police custody.
Newsom has announced his office plans on releasing guidelines that would allow counties to move into Stage 3 this week. While some businesses in Stage 3, like hair salons and barbershops, are already allowed to be open, the governor’s action could allow even more personal care and tourism services to return.
But first, the county must demonstrate it can control the spread of COVID-19.