COVID-19 increase puts Kern on watch list

Doug Keeler
Midway Driller Editor @midwaydriller
Taft Midway Driller

Kern County's rapidly rising COVID-19 rate is putting the county back on the state watch list and many businesses that recently reopened will have to close by the end of the week.The county has reported more than 1,900 new COVID-19 cases since Saturday, including almost 800 on Monday alone.

Kern County now has 9,324 total cases. About half have recovered.

The county had 495 new cases Saturday, 719 on Sunday and 787 on Monday.

Taft's infection rate has increased as well. 

By Monday, the 93268 zip code had 113 cases and 61 recoveries, leaving 52 active cases here. Taft's total infections have risen by abut 25 percent since Saturday. Friday, there were 90 total cases in the 93268 area code. 

The sharp rise in confirmed COVID cases is largely due to increased testing and faster evaluation of the tests, county officials said last week.

But it is still going to put the county back on the state watch list. If it stays on the list for three consecutive days, the business closures begin.

Kern County Spokesperson Megan Person said the county was notified that it has exceeded state metrics for a third day in a row on Monday.

Person said counties that remain on the County Data Monitoring list for 3 consecutive days are required by the Governor’s orders to shut down the following industries or activities Friday unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pick-up.

This includes gyms and fitness centers, places of worship and cultural ceremonies, like weddings and funerals, offices for non-critical infrastructure sectors, personal care services, like nail salons and body waxing (tattoo parlors must close) and shopping malls. 

Barber shops and hair salons will not be affected. They are covered by a different set of regulations released Monday, Person said.

Moreover, when a county is on a watch list, schools cannot open their campuses. Schools will have to wait until a county has been off a watchlist for two weeks before they can open.

Westside schools are planning to reopen in mid-August for a hybrid educational model with students attending school two days per week.