Serving the community since 1970

Couch's Corner: More testing will help county reopen

In recent months, Kern County has taken measures to reopen the economy and support small businesses with CARES Act stimulus funds. In May, the Kern County Public Health Department rescinded the local emergency health order to coincide with California’s transition to reopening the economy. That same month, Governor Newsom modified the states’ stay at home order to allow county variance in economic reopening.

This step allowed counties to reopen at their own pace provided they abide by public health guidelines prescribed by the California Department of Public Health. Allowing counties to reopen faster than the state upon meeting certifications from CDPH acknowledged that a state as large as California does not deserve a one-size-fits-all solution.

However, recently, the Newsom administration rolled back the California’s Pandemic Resilience Map, effectively eliminating the County Variance Attestation Form. To replace his previous reopening plan, Newsom revealed the four-tiered, color-coded reopening plan called the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

According to the CPHD, “every county in California is assigned to a tier based on its test positivity and adjusted case rate for tier assignment including metrics from the last three weeks.” Counties are required to stay in their classified tier for three weeks before approval to move down the tier system. However, if a county experiences shortfalls in metrics, then CPHD will classify the county in a more restrictive tier. The colored tiered system rates the transmission of the virus as follows:

● Widespread - Purple

● Substantial - Red

● Moderate - Orange

● Minimal – Yellow

Currently, Kern County is classified as purple, the most restrictive tier. Some of the restrictions include retail stores and malls being capped at 25% capacity, restaurants can only have outdoor dining, places of worship must conduct services outdoors, schools must stay closed and other business sectors are subject to restrictions on indoor activity.

Despite this classification from the state, the case rate and hospitalization rate from the virus continues to shrink in our county. As of Sept. 29, 67 people were hospitalized with covid-19 compared to the 280 people hospitalized in July.

At a case rate of 5.8%, Kern County meets the state’s requirement for lifted restrictions on indoor activity and an upgrade to the red tier. Despite this milestone, Newsom’s administration inflated our case rate to 7% because the county fell below the state’s testing rate. To put it another way, the state public health department decided to restrict small businesses in Kern County from reopening because residents in our community have not taken a voluntary test.

I encourage District Four residents to visit their local covid-19 testing site and support our efforts to reopen our economy. The Kern County Board of Supervisors in collaboration with County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop and KCPH Director Matt Constantine continue to communicate with the governor’s office our request to not inflate the county’s case rate. Together we will advance the progress our community made this summer in slowing the transmission of the virus.

Please visit the attached link to find your nearest covid-19 testing site and please go get tested:

If you have any questions about this or any other matter, feel free to contact us at [email protected] or at 661-868-3680.


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