The Kern County Fairgrounds will serve as an auxiliary medical site to handle a potential overflow of patients should local hospitals reach capacity due to a peak in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks as many health experts predict, local officials said Monday. The fairgrounds will also house 15 trailers the state is sending to help manage the virus among the homeless population by providing a place to isolate and recover. 

Those plans were announced during a Monday morning news conference where more than half a dozen local government officials spoke about the response to COVID-19 and Kern County's top public health official declared a local health emergency. As cases of the virus continue to climb — 24 new cases were announced Monday —  and the community enters a sustained period of crisis operations, it marked the first time a coalition of local leaders came together to reassure the community and address ongoing efforts to respond to the epidemic.

Kern County now has 74 cases of the virus, including one death. Two visitors to the county have also tested positive.

Approximately 2,500 tests for the virus have been done and about 1,000 are pending results.

"I'm frequently asked, are we prepared?" said Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh. "Public health, our local health officials, our local health providers ... they are prepared. They’re ready."

Local officials said the following:

MEDICAL CAPACITY

All 10 acute care hospitals in the county have drawn up plans to increase capacity by 40 percent in the event of a "supermax surge" of the virus, said Kern Medical CEO Russell Judd. The "alternative care site" at the fairgrounds would be used in the event that local hospitals become inundated, Constantine said.

"So if all 10 hospitals were to receive patients that were beyond their ability …. we need to have the ability to care for those individuals…," Constantine said. "So this alternative care site is now being provided. Kern County has a two-week supply of personal protective equipment for health care workers and has asked the state to replenish those supplies, Constantine said.

He also said information was released by the state on Friday to help local communities anticipate when they could see the virus peak. The county is in the process of analyzing that data and has not yet reached an estimated time period.

PARKS 

Bakersfield City Manager Christian Clegg urged residents not to congregate in parks and to use social distancing. Clegg said the city would immediately post more signage in parks and cordon off playground and other park equipment.

Last week the city said it would take down basketball rims and lock tennis courts. People have been seen gathering in the parks by city workers and community members who have reported it to the city.

BUSINESSES 

The public health department sent inspectors out to 30 to 40 non-essential businesses in recent days that have continued to operate despite orders to shut down. They were given a written notice to comply with the orders, Constantine said, and many immediately closed.

Clegg said the city had set up a business resource for those affected by the pandemic. And Kern County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop implored people to buy from restaurants.

"They are the soft underbelly of this economy," Alsop said. "They’re the first to feel (the effects)."

OTHER SERVICES

County Supervisor Leticia Perez spoke about a statewide ban on evictions announced last week and said residents with questions could contact her office for help.

Kern County Superintendent of Schools Mary Barlow reviewed progress being made to help the tens of thousands of K-12 students in Kern continue to learn at home and receive meals.

People in need of internet service who do not have it can go to the parking lot of any county library branch or county building to get wireless service, Alsop said.

Goh and many others called on the community to continue social distancing, washing hands and staying at home as much as possible. 

"I'm imploring our community: stay at home," she said. "Stay at home for yourself, your family, your friends, for our community."

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(14) comments

mrdwm1

These folks all say that "we're" prepared. But while I see stores like Vons that are taking precautions very seriously, I also see the big home improvement stores like Lowes and H.D. that are closer to brain-dead when it comes to safe distancing, disinfecting areas around checkouts, etc. Perhaps the Mayor needs to put some teeth into requiring businesses that are staying open to wake up?

lower case larry

shame on bakersfield and kevin mccarthy. only 1,500 tests thus far? this is what you get when your rep is more concerned with being a trump photo op than representing the district. oh, btw, how and for what reason for kev dropping over $10k of your tax money on trump properties? maybe ask his wife...

Frank Smith

We are completely under prepared for a Pandemic of this magnitude at the city and county level . In a few weeks , the fact that our leaders failed to respond appropriately NOW , will become obvious to even the least educated amoung us . The military and public health professionals teach us to prepare for the worst case event , and to be thankful if it doesn't occur . A tidal wave of illness and death are about to crash on top of us ; if only our local leaders were not complacent and weak . Many of us will die needlessly .

Masked 2020

come on commenters.. you got to keep up......On Feb. 26, when there were 15 reported cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, President Trump predicted the number of cases would soon be “down to close to zero.”

On March 5, he hailed the fact that there were about 3,000 deaths worldwide but only 11 in the United States.

On March 9, he noted that there were just 22 U.S. deaths and compared the virus to the seasonal flu, which has killed 37,000 people this year.

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On March 13, he said the 2009 swine flu had killed 14,000 people in the United States and called the Obama administration’s response to it “a disaster.”

On Sunday night, the same president set the goal posts for his administration’s response to the coronavirus in a very different place. In a White House briefing in the Rose Garden, Trump referenced new data from his task force and said that between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths would represent a victory over the coronavirus.

In doing so, Trump seemed to suddenly embrace coronavirus projections that he had previously shrugged off and downplayed. Rather than put an optimistic spin on what lies ahead, he instead sought to use the most dire projections to pre-spin his administration’s response as a success.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

I see you copied and pasted from the down-the-middle Washington ComPost Yorkies- I should've known none of this was your own research.

I'll also help you with a couple of dates:

January 31, 2020 (before the first date you "borrowed" from the WP): Trump suspends foreign travel from China into the US (I'm sure you've seen Joe Biden's response).

February 24th, Nancy Pelosi encourages people to visit Chinatown in San Francisco. Here's a quote (one of many that day): "That’s what we’re trying to do today is to say everything is fine here. Come because precautions have been taken. The city is on top of the situation."

It's not too hard to find plenty of quotes just like these, but since you are the Google master, I'll leave you to your own devices...

alysiakw

This is so frustrating. The city needs to close the parks. I live directly across the street from one of the city parks, and I can watch it out of my kitchen window. They are still holding soccer practice in the park several times a week, no social distancing there! People walk their dogs in groups, meet up with friends, even share cigarettes with each other. Until some kind of solid action is taken, the parks will just be a breeding ground for this illness. I don’t love the idea of having to force people to stay home, but there are so many people who aren’t taking this seriously. They’re a risk to the rest of us.

Treyjames.c.l.j

Stop telling people to stay home unless your going to actually do something about it. Action speaks louder than words and all I here from Bakersfield is talk and talk is cheap. Sorry just venting.

Masked 2020

enlighten us.......what's the anticipated mortality in our/your planned pandemic scenario??.....5 50 500 etc...

tubatooter

When is Kern Co Health going to give it's citizens information they have a right to know? Two cases in the "desert" area...Rosamond or Ridgecrest? Two cases in the mountains...Frasier Park or Tehachapi? C'mon, you can tell us that much without violating your privacy related obligations!

Blaster

Yikes! Houston we have a problem.

JR

I'm impressed. It sounds as though Bakersfield is on top of it and more organized and ready than some of the larger cities across the country. We do have one other advantage and that's our physical isolation from other cities. And who wants to vacay in Bakersfield, anyway. I'm all for city officials cracking down on people who ignore the shelter-in-place policy and continue to shop and eat and play as usual. Thanks.

Moardeeb

1,200 beds and 300 ICU beds for a city of 350,000? Ready? Yeah.

Isolation. The virus doesn't care where you are it will come in unless you're in a bunker and never have to get food or meds. The red States are going to find that out soon.

Just do everything you can do. Disinfect EVERYTHING that comes across your threshold, including groceries and boxes and bags. I keep my sink filled with 1/3 cup bleach to 1 gal water.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

"The red States are going to find that out soon."

You're a fool- you do know the epicenter of the infection is New York, one of the most BLUE states in the country, right?

#PartisanHack

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@JR Exactly and very well said.

Unfortunately, we can't wait for Natural Selection to do its thing while more and more can get infected and die.

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