Kern County Declares Local Health Emergency

Bakersfield, CA (Monday, March 30 10:15 a.m.)— In a press conference this morning hosted by the Kern County Department of Health Services, it was announced that both the City of Bakersfield and the County of Kern have declared a Public Health Emergency. Citizens are asked to stay in their homes and observe “social isolation” protocols to help suppress the spread of the Covid-19 contagion.

At the time of the conference, 59 Kern County residents  were said to have contracted the Covid-19 coronavirus; 1,000 of the 1,995 tests administered have been negative. Results for almost 930 tests have still not been received.  Physicians are designating who is eligible for testing, directed primarily for those who have symptoms, such as a high fever, dry coughing and respiratory distress.

Declaring the emergency will enable the county to qualify for aid available from the state and possibly some federal relief. County health department personnel, county and city leaders and local hospitals are collaborating, Director of Kern County Health Department Matt Constantine said.  Fifteen house trailers are being brought to the County Fairgrounds to provide shelter for homeless people who are ill. Pods of 250 units each are being developed as “surge capacity” field hospital units at the fairgrounds also.

Constantine said that mathematical models are being developed to project when the surge will strike this region and California as a whole.

Dr. Mary Barlow, Kern County Superintendent of schools, said that continuity of instruction for the county’s school children is of top priority. Library parking lots will be places where a live WiFi signal will be maintained for downloading assignments, as will the parking lots around most county buildings. All libraries and other county buildings are closed, however, and are anticipated to stay closed through the end of April. Closures are “highly likely to be extended further.”

More information about options for obtaining Chromebooks and local WiFi through the public school system will be explored in this upcoming week’s issue of The Mountain Enterprise. Options for businesses seeking financial relief will also be examined.

This is part of the March 27, 2020 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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