An astounding 1,120 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Kern County Wednesday, a nearly tenfold increase over the number of daily cases reported in recent weeks.

It’s not just jaw-dropping by our own measure. Kern has had the second- or third-highest number of daily cases of any county statewide in the past several days, behind only Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Why are Kern’s numbers so high?

It appears to be caused by a confluence of factors including high demand for testing, backlogs in processing tests, both at labs and when results are received by the county, and the plain fact there is more widespread transmission of the disease in the community.

Kern County Public Health Services Department said in a statement explaining the high case counts:

“Over the last several weeks we have observed a significant increase in testing at our county and state testing sites. Some of our sites have experienced a four-fold increase that has been sustained over the last few weeks.

“Contracted labs (Quest and Westpac) have notified us that they are experiencing shortages with testing supplies and laboratory reagent and their turnaround time is extended with results not being received for 7 days or more in many instances.

“This surge in testing and the delayed results have recently resulted in large numbers of lab results currently being received at Public Health. This increased volume has overwhelmed our system and our staffing plan was not able to keep pace. We have called more people within our department to assist us and have tripled the staffing in key areas. We spent early last week training and implementing the changes and are making significant progress.

"This means that there will be a large increase in the number of positive tests being reported out for the next few weeks if not longer.”

The daily case counts are not reflective of new cases in the past day or two — they generally represent cases in the past four or five days, though testing backlogs have stretched that timeframe out even longer.

Similarly, the 10 new deaths reported Wednesday happened over a week or more ago, bringing the total to 115. Total cases countywide now exceed 11,000 and the number of people tested is approaching 110,000 out of a county population of 900,000.

In addition, local hospitals took in another 32 COVID-19 patients in a 48-hour period from Sunday to Tuesday, according to a state hospitalization tracker.

In recent weeks, the number of new cases announced daily was hovering around 100 to 150 per day, but on Saturday it hit nearly 500 and the number has increased every day since then.

Expanded testing

On Tuesday, Kern was added back on the state's watchlist of counties that are exceeding certain COVID-19 metrics.

The website for the state watchlist states of Kern: "The likely drivers of elevated disease transmission include: 1) An exponential expansion of testing Kern County residents; 2) Transmission in skilled nursing facilities, prisons and other congregate facilities; 3) Household contacts and social gatherings among separate households."

County officials said earlier this week that the number of people tested began rapidly increasing earlier this month.

Whereas about 20,000 tests had been done in the first 22 days of June, more than 40,000 were done in the first 22 days of July, county figures show.

Meanwhile, in a Tweet on Wednesday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, said Health and Human Services had approved surge testing in Bakersfield, meaning that more testing will soon be available at no cost.

Surge testing is approved for communities seeing a sudden increase in cases and hospitalizations, according to HHS. It has previously been approved in Jacksonville, Fla.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Edinburg, Texas.

Some health experts said that beyond increased testing and backlogs, the virus is simply spreading more widely in the community.

Exponential growth

UC Irvine epidemiologist and associate public health professor Andrew Noymer said the type of growth in cases Kern is seeing is what eventually happens in an exponentially growing pandemic. The rate of increase is proportional to the size of the number of cases, he said.

“The exponential growth goes up and up and up. It’s like a rocket ship,” Noymer said, explaining that cases in the last three weeks may equal the whole curve before then.

Dr. Hemmal Kothary, chief medical officer for Dignity Health's Central California division, said he believed gatherings for recent holidays are likely driving the numbers. Fourth of July was a little more than two weeks ago, which is the incubation period for the virus. Father’s Day was four weeks ago.

“I think it will eventually settle down somewhat,” Kothary said of new cases.

But, he added, “I don’t think it goes away completely before the second wave,” which he expects to arrive this fall.

Clinica Sierra Vista, which operates healthcare clinics for the uninsured, has seen major increases in cases at its south Bakersfield and Lamont centers, said spokesman Tim Calahan. In Lamont, the positive rate to date is 40 percent and in south Bakersfield it’s 29 percent.

“It’s three-pronged,” Calahan explained.

Those areas are largely Hispanics, a population that has been contracting the virus at higher levels statewide and nationally. People in those areas tend to be essential workers so “they never stopped working during the pandemic.” And they tend to live in multigenerational housing with grandparents, children and grandchildren living in the same home.

“With congregate housing, all it takes is one person to spread that in the home,” Calahan said.

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(37) comments

Zeppo

Dr. Dan Erickson of Accelerated Urgent Care from Bakersfield spoke today in the White House. You may want to read what he says on Breitbart.com. It will enlighten you.

Zeppo

Loveourflag: The term "divisory" is incorrect. Do you mean "causes to divide?"

Zeppo

Dr. Dan Erickson of Accelerated Urgent Care here in Bakersfield spoke today in the White House about the virus and how so much of it is being driven to scare everyone. You can read about it on Breitbart.com.

Masked 2020

the Republicans have squandered the last six months and Trillions of dollars...and here we are......denial of Facts in the Middle of a Pandemic..........what's wrong with Right......so so wrong

Masked 2020

as for Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield.... he should of stuck with his original gut feelings about NakedDon...but no.... he bought a four-year ticket to ride on the TrumpCrazyTrain....so he had a chance to do the Right Thing and Impeach the Conductor....but no…..again ... and here we in the Land of FullBlownCovid........Zombie Apocalypse the Sequelae …..TWO strikes are enough

Bodysnatcher

You’ve been riding the crazy train all your life opossum.

Unruly Panda

Oh, and the primary reason for the massive spread of the virus in our community? It is due to spoiled, ignorant, and childish fools who refuse to properly mask up, physically distance, and limit interactions outside of their own household. To paraphrase George Carlin, "The reason we have such a dope problem, is that we have too many dopes." Seriously, just stop being idiots and do your part to curtail the spread of this virus.

Vico17

Which communities have the highest spread Panda? Who are you talking about? Are you calling East Bakersfield, Arvin, Lamont "spoiled, ignorant, and childish fools..."?

Unruly Panda

LOL, nice try Vico17. Stupidity, selfishness, and ignorance cross all ethnic, racial, economic, religious, and political divides. So, yes, if a spoiled idiot lives in Arvin and insists on his "God-given, Constitutional right" to put others at risk, I will call him/her out. The same as I will call out the spoiled idiot who lives in some exclusive, gated community.

Bodysnatcher

Panda, the crowds I’ve seen lately, mainly young adults, aren’t thinking exercising their “constitutional rights”. When you have 200-300 kids packed into a back yard party, standing shoulder to shoulder, their constitutional rights are the furthest thing from their indoctrinated minds.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Vico speaks the truth Panda- I've downloaded the county's data for some time now and the top three areas in infections per 1000 are the ones he named.

These are people who have a strong familial culture, and unfortunately, contact tracing in Kern County shows the majority of cases are brought into the home.

If you want to call these people stupid and selfish go ahead, but when you take care of your own (like most Hispanic families), you can't just wave a magic wand and tell them to stop...

Unruly Panda

Enough with the moronic conspiracy theories. When an individual is tested a unique case identified is assigned to the individual. If that individual tests negative 10 times, the net result is one negative test result in the database. If the individual subsequently tests positive, the negative result for that case file is replaced with a positive. It doesn't matter whether the person tests once, or 100 times, all of the tests count as only one case result. Similarly, the folktale of people waiting to get tested who lose patience and don't actually get tested receiving positive results is also false. As is the myth that if one family member tests positive all of the household members are reported as positive. Finally, someone who is positive for Covid, but dies in a car crash, or some other traumatic event, is not counted as a Covid fatality. Just because you read it on Facebook, does not make it true. In fact, if you read it on Facebook, it is more than likely to be false.

Zeppo

Unruly Panda: So, the people who work in hospitals are all lieing???? They aren't "conspiracy theories" if people are stating what they see for themselves in a hospital environment.

Masked 2020

What’s behind the rise?....NakedDon and MaskedMike2020....and all their lemmings....

Inconvenient Truth

What’s behind the rise?

1) Vastly Increased testing.

2) Asymptomatic patients (with antibodies) finally being tested.

3) Double, Triple and Quadruple counting of patients getting follow-up tests.

4) Protests.

Zeppo

Inconvenient Truth: However the truth is an alien principle to Dems.

LoveOurFlag

I'm republican, your comment is juvenile and divisory

casones

YEAH, THAT'S WHY YOUR ALIEN KING TRUMP RESUMED VIRUS BRIEFINGS! BECAUSE THE TRUTH WAS ALIEN TO YOUR KING! "IT WILL MAGICALLY DISAPPEAR" AND "IT'S ONLY 15 PEOPLE SOON TO BE ZERO" HAS BEEN REPLACED WITH A QUOTE FROM THE WALLACE INTERVIEW, "I WILL EVENTUALLY BE RIGHT". THE ONLY ALIENS ARE THE RIGHT WING PLANET OF THE APES WHO LANDED HERE IN NOVEMBER OF 2016! "MAGICALLY" AND "EVENTUALLY" ARE THE NEW CONCEPTS OF THESE RIGHT WING MONKEYS!

Vico17

When you lose all arguments, liberals' only play is to slander. PATHETIC. And to think you work for the KHSD.

casones

"IGNORANCE IS BLISS!" WHAT'S BEHIND THE RISE? THE TRUMP VIRUS! ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE VIRUS IS NAIVE! THE TRUMP VIRUS IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RISE! THAT'S WHAT TRUMP VIRUSES DO! THEY SPREAD! LET ME REPEAT-- A VIRUSES SOLE PURPOSE IS TO SPREAD! BLAH BLAH- INCREASED TESTING, ASYMPTOMATIC PATIENTS, DOUBLE, TRIPLE, QUADRUPLE BS, PROTESTS? HAHA THE RIGHT WING MAKES UP BLAME ON EVERYTHING BUT THE VIRUS! THIS TRUMP VIRUS IS TO BLAME FOR THE SPREAD! EVEN WITH OVER THE LAST MONTH EVEN WITH 70% OF KERN COUNTY MASKING UP THE VIRUS IS SPREADING. DOESN'T ANYONE GET THAT? IT'S SUSPENSION IN THE AIR IS JUST LONG ENOUGH TO TRANSMIT DESPITE THE 6' RULE.

Flee_sr

Death is coming for us all. It is inevitable. Blaming the President is not going to save you or anyone else. I know when my time comes God will judge me. If you are living in fear or are being unsafe, than maybe you should evaluate your way of living.

casones

EVERYONE IS WELL AWARE DEATH IS INEVITABLE! HOWEVER, WHEN 145,000 DEATHS WERE NEEDLESS, FORESEEABLE, AND PREVENTABLE THE TRUMP VIRUS COULD HAVE BEEN STOPPED IN IT'S TRACKS WITH A COMPLETE LOCKDOWN IN FEBRUARY! AND PLEASE, MR TRUMP WANNABE, DON'T PRETEND THAT THE U.S. PRESIDENT IS NOT THE MOST WELL INFORMED MAN IN THE WORLD? HE IS BRIEFED ON EVERYTHING! TO SAY HE WAS UNINFORMED, MISINFORMED, NOT BRIEFED, IS ADMISSION THAT HIS ADMINISTRATION, AGENCIES, AND INTELLIGENCE ARE THE MOST INEPT IN HISTORY! CIA, NSA, FBI, HS, ETC. NOONE KNEW? OUR EXTENSIVE SURVEILLANCE ACCROSS THE WORLD KNEW NOTHING? BS. YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS! IF KING TRUMP DID NOT KNOW THEN HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MOST MISERABLE INTELLIGENCE IN HISTORY! IF KING TRUMP KNEW, WHICH IS WHAT THE MAJORITY BELIEVE THEN............. GOD IS AWFULLY BUSY JUDGING RIGHT NOW BECAUSE OF KING TRUMP!

ReefRanger

your opinions are not facts. Trump wanted to close the borders in late January, and the Democrats all screamed and ripped their clothes and said "OH NO! YOU CANT DO THAT! It WOULD BE UN-AMERICAN! We MUST let EVERYONE travelling the world come here and bring us this wonderful present!" Yeah, everyone knew, including the Democrat swamp creatures, who are using this pandemic against Trump because THEY want to destroy America!

Moardeeb

It's not the number of tests you do, its the amount of positive cases you find. It drives the testing.

Dr. David Ho, Scientific Director of the Aids Research Center, the man basically responsible for taking Aids from a terminal disease to a chronic disease just said our failed response to this virus is a failure to have a national

strategy. He blames the Trump Administration. He says were look like a third world developing country, not the USA.

He predicted this 4 months ago. He said then that all these diverse state approaches would keep us infected for a much longer time.

Congratulations Trump voters and supporters. Your experiment failed.

Boris25

Most dumb, just remember what that great Republican President said, and it certainly applies to you. "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt ". A. Lincoln

PopTart

Pull that mask tighter around your neck.....

Zeppo

Hey Dweeb: Guess which group complained when Trump cut off planes coming from China and called him a bigot and racist because of it? Nancy Pelosi went into Chinatown (if we are still allowed to call it that) and told everyone to come there and have fun when the virus was spreading. China is the one to be blamed for this virus escaping their country.

She Dee

I wonder if Zeppo believes the Earth is flat too.

LoveOurFlag

I have some tinfoil for you.

casones

HE DID NOT CUT OFF PLANES, POCOHANTAS! 150,000 PEOPLE TRAVELLED FROM CHINA BECUASE HE ONLY RESTRICTED TRAVEL! BESIDES, HIS CDC REPORTED MANY OF THE CASES CAME FROM EUROPE! GREAT JOB KING TRUMP, THE APTLY NAMED TRUMP VIRUS IS SURGING! THERE WAS NO CHINA TRAVEL BAN, MORON. THERE WAS A RESTRICTION ON TRAVEL! EVEN YOUR KING ADMITTED IN FEBRUARY, "IT IS ONE PERSON FROM CHINA". CHINA IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FLU, DIABETES, EBOLA, MALARIA, HEART DISEASE, THE COMMON COLD, HYPERTENSION, THE PLAGUE, THE SPANISH FLU......... JESUS WHO CARES? IT GOT HERE BECAUSE OF YOUR KING!

ReefRanger

100,000 upvotes and thank you's!

LoveOurFlag

I'm a republican. PROUD. I am NOT a trumpican. He is an embarrassment to any thinking conservative

Vico17

Now do Biden. What are your reasons to vote for someone like him? You sound like Mitt?

casones

DITTO! EVEN JUST HIS NAME CALLING IS PROOF OF CHILD BEHAVIOUR. ADD EVERYTHING ELSE IN AND YOU HAVE A MONSTER WHOM LOOKS LIKE A PUMPKIN OR ORANGUTAN!

Vico17

YOU ARE NOT SELF-AWARE. YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT NAME CALLING? HILARIOUS!!!

ReefRanger

Another Trump-Hater heard from. You should try laying the blame where it rightfully belongs...at the feet of the Chinese government, for lying about the virus and keeping silent about it to the world. Trump is not a doctor or an infectious disease expert. And, AGAIN...he TRIED to stop people from coming into America from other countries at the very beginning, but you liberal parasites never remember that it was Nancy PigUgly and her crotch-crab Chucker the Fvcker and their merry band of America-hating, flying monkeys that delayed the closing of our borders.

Zeppo

It is beyond me why any thinking person, who believes in law and order, would vote for Biden who supports open borders, high taxes, BLM, rioting and burning down cities, etc.

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