On Thursday afternoon, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a one-month, limited stay at home order set to begin Saturday night.

“Together — we can flatten the curve again,” a tweet from Newsom reads.

The press release from Newsom’s office states that non-essential work and gatherings must happen between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. for counties within the purple tier, which covers 94 percent of California’s population.

“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge,” Newsom said.

“We are asking Californians to change their personal behaviors to stop the surge. We must be strong together and make tough decisions to stay socially connected but physically distanced during this critical time.”

The Kern County Public Health Department reported 309 new cases on Thursday. Ridgecrest Regional Hospital announced it will be providing updates twice a week, once on Monday and again on Thursday.

The hospital confirmed 10 new Ridgecrest cases and one new Inyokern case Thursday.

“Together we prevented a public health crisis in the spring and together we can do it again,” Newsom said.

Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) issued a statement critical of the state’s curfew announcement. 

“In times like these, we must have more collaboration, not less. Newsom’s continued unilateral decisions with little to no input from counties and local officials across California has led to more questions, confusion, and anxiety. This cannot continue,” he said.

COVID prediction technology?

In mid-October, Facebook published an artificial intelligence COVID-19 forecast map that predicts the viruses spread throughout each county in the United States.

In its most recent prediction, the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) Model projected that Kern County will add 4,811 cases between Nov. 17 and Nov. 30, reaching a total of 42,000 cases.

The prediction AI is far from perfect. For example, on Thursday, the Kern County prediction for total cases was over by 130 cases, though these numbers may balance out in the long run. As mentioned before, KCPHD confirmed 309 new cases Thursday. FAIR’s prediction was short 19 cases.

The Kern County Public Health Department has also noted that tests collected over the past seven days may not be collected yet, and therefore the data may change.

Facebook AI’s paper, titled Neural Relational Autoregression for High-Resolution COVID-19 Forecasting, discusses the challenges of forecasting such a pandemic:

“Forecasting COVID-19 poses unique challenges due to the novelty of the disease, its unknown characteristics, and substantial but varying interventions to reduce its spread. … [F]orecasting COVID-19 poses unique challenges – in particular when considering confirmed cases at high spatial resolution. 

“Although there has been considerable progress towards understanding the spread of the disease, there still exists only limited data and knowledge about important factors that influence its spread. This is only exacerbated by the naturally larger noise-levels in county-level data as compared to more highly aggregated state-level data.”

The FAIR prediction is that Kern County will reach 40,000 cases, and nearly 400 new cases per day, by Nov. 26.