I was born and raised in Kern County, and it saddens me to see it go up in proverbial flames as the pace of COVID-19 positive cases increases dramatically. Please do something more, because whatever efforts have been made to contain the virus up to this point aren't working.
And it's getting worse. The number of infected people in Kern County is reaching heights never before seen, and the individual efforts to control/minimize the spread of the virus through mask-wearing and social distancing seems to be at an all-time low locally. Our hospitals are nearing, if not already, at capacity.
My own personal concern has ebbed and flowed, and I understand the fatigue, but I left a grocery store in a socio-economically disadvantaged part of town earlier this week, and I've never felt more concerned about the path we're on, which is why I felt compelled to write. The virus may not care about the contents of one's pocketbook or our zip code, but we do know how well it exploits every little crack in a community's armor. I don't need some fancy study to know the cracks that existed in our most impoverished communities that were profound before the pandemic are only exacerbated and exaggerated by the unequal access to resources and information needed to control this virus.
Why aren't we seeing free masks and hand sanitizer in our mailboxes? Why are we not seeing every other commercial break on TV/social media being followed by a public media campaign communicating the seriousness of this pandemic and the importance of wearing a mask properly and washing one's hands properly (in all locally spoken languages)? Hire a fancy PR firm, get creative, do whatever needs to be done to get people's attention where it needs to be.
I'm quite certain very few people, especially those living on the margins, are actively checking for updates on the state, county or federal health department websites or tuning in to the once per week episode of Newsom and Friends/Alsop and Friends. It was pretty evident the people in that grocery store haven't seen and/or don't understand the implications of the exponential increase in positive cases locally this past week. It's sad and heartbreaking knowing more can be done. Whatever efforts were made in the past to contain and control the virus are proving to be increasingly inadequate. Our governments — local, state and federal — need to do more!
I'm not a fan of doom and gloom or of being an alarmist, but if we don't get our act together in the next few days and weeks, I can't envision a future of anything other than mass economic and social carnage. I'm pleading for more to be done, much much more. We need to approach and treat this like the natural disaster it is. As our house is about to go up in flames, this isn't a time for hopes and prayers; this is a time for action and resources.
To all of our elected officials, I don't care what you did or didn't do yesterday; I want to know what you're going to do tomorrow.
And maybe it's ego, maybe it's pride, or maybe it's socio-economic circumstances, but we need to remedy whatever it is that's preventing many in this community from acknowledging and treating this virus/pandemic as the threat it is.
Victor Estrada was born and raised in Kern County and went to Cal State Bakersfield. He also participated in the Peace Corps.