Couch's Corner - March 26, 2020
County moves to serve in emergency
Last updated 3/26/2020 at 7:31pm | View PDF
By now, I’m certain that all of us have been impacted by the COVID-19 virus, and I’m also certain that you are keeping informed so I will not use our weekly Couch’s Corner to provide you any “breaking news,” as it changes so fast. But I would like to keep you informed on what’s going on at the county, how to find out what services are still available, and how your District 4 office can help you with matters concerning the county.
In compliance with the state emergency shelter-in-place guidelines, the county has shut down all nonessential functions and instructed those staff that can, to work at home. Our District 4 staff, for instance, is working at home. But quite a few county activities continue to take place, such as the obvious public safety functions of the Fire Department and the Sheriff’s Office.
In addition to public safety, a long list of departments and the services each provide during this shelter-in-place period is available at kerncounty.com.
Essentially, if a function can be done on-line or by phone, it is being done there, and if it requires person-to-person contact, it is restricted. Essential field activities such as pothole repair and road maintenance still are being performed. Check kerncounty.com to see how the county is meeting your needs during this crisis.
Keep in mind, our office is poised to be your conduit to these functions, if you need assistance. While it may be best to go directly to the departments whose aid you need, know that any question or concern you have you can funnel through our office, and we can forward those and in some cases follow up with those and with the departments to ensure your needs are met. Feel free to email us at [email protected] or call us at 661-868-3680 if you need help with any matter.
If you check out kerncounty.com, you will see the county’s Public Health Department has taken the lead on this crisis, and is keeping us all updated as they try to keep us safer. In addition to current numbers of afflicted and tested, you will see guidelines to stay safe, updates from California’s Public Health Department, and updates from the Center for Disease Control. Links for restaurants, businesses, healthcare providers, schools, first responders, and others, are all in one place. You can also “like” Kern County Public Health on Facebook to get your latest updates.
This week, the county is taking its emergency operations center to Level II, which means it is increasing its readiness and staffing to deal with this current crisis level. Accordingly, departments such as Human Services, the Bakersfield Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative, Aging and Adult Services, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, the Sheriff’s Office, the County Administrative Office, Geographic Information Systems and General Services will be on hand to support the Public Health Department, which is still the lead agency for the COVID-19 response.
One primary concern is temporary housing for the homeless population. It has become a public health matter that our homeless problem be managed now, and that this population, already a huge concern for California, does not become part of the spread of coronavirus. The other matter of primary importance at this time is managing the food banks to make sure everyone has food and that the food is secure. With so many businesses closed, it is critical that we are able to feed our Kern County residents. Through the EOC, actions in support of these vital functions can be coordinated better, and faster.
These are troubling times, and all of us have to continue to work together to keep all of us safe. It is my goal to make sure that as the county makes plans, our district -- your communities -- are properly considered in all matters. I will be your voice as this unprecedented emergency goes to this next level, but to do that, I need to hear your concerns. Working together, we will get through this together.
David Couch is District 4 county supervisor, representing the Shafter and Wasco areas. The opinions expressed in this column are his own, and not necessarily those of the paper or its management.