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Kern County to remain in orange tier until June 15 restrictions lift

Kern County will remain in the orange tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy until capacity and distancing restrictions are lifted for the entire state on June 15.

The latest update by the California Department of Public Health shows Kern County’s coronavirus metrics did not drop enough to qualify the county for the yellow tier, the least restrictive of four tiers established in the Blueprint. A county must meet a lower tier’s metrics for two weeks before dropping.

With two weeks left before the state’s June 15 deadline for lifting restrictions, Kern County does not have enough time left to qualify for the yellow tier. So the orange tier restrictions that have been in place since April 12 will remain.

Two of the metrics tracked by the county and state dropped over the week of May 16 through 22, the most recent week available. The rate of new coronavirus cases per day dropped from 2.6 per 100,000 residents to 2.4.

The case rate has to be below 2 per 100,000 residents to qualify for the yellow tier.

The positivity rate increased from 1.5 percent to 1.6 percent. However, the health equity metric, which tracks the positivity rate in the poorest quarter of Kern County’s census tracts, decreased from 2 percent to 1.7 percent.

Both the county’s test positivity rate and health equity metric meet yellow tier requirements.

So far, 45 percent of the county’s eligible population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 36.3 of the eligible population fully vaccinated.

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an incentive program for those who receive the vaccine.

On June 15, 10 vaccinated residents will be randomly selected to receive $1.5 million. On June 4, 15 additional vaccinated residents will be selected to win $50,000, with another 15 selected the next Friday.

On May 27, the state began giving away $50 gift cards to the first 2 million California residents receiving vaccines.

“We hope that our community will take advantage of this opportunity to receive a gift card or cash prize, while also reaping the ultimate reward of protection against this deadly virus that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine provides,” Brynn Carrigan, director of Kern County Public Health Services, said in a news release. “Vaccination remains the safest and fastest path to immunity for yourself and the entire community.”

A local hotline for individuals with questions about the vaccine can be reached at 661-677-4177 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.

The Kern County fairgrounds offers the Pfizer vaccine from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

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