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April 6, 2020

It's Here: Covid-19 Reaches Kern County


Confirmed cases in Kern County, population 900,000, reached 100 last week. Today, Monday, we reached 230 with two deaths.

Local health officials are no longer assuring us that "everything is under control." They are now warning about "possible" shortages of key medical supplies as elsewhere in the country. They're now saying getting supplies from the state is "spotty".

Cases are doubling every three days. That's better than it was (doubling every two days) but not good enough (we'd like to see it at four days or more). Interestingly, the local paper now reports the doubling time, something I haven't seen in the national press.

Part of the problem could be the mix of ways growth in infections is being reported. Johns Hopkins is reporting the growth rate as an exponential. That's hard to digest if you're not a mathematician. It's easier for us mere mortals to digest doubling times--and that's difficult enough.

The big hospital systems here--Catholics and Adventists--have set up triage tents and the county is adapting the fairgrounds as a field hospital for non-Covid-19 patients. The hospital systems in Bakersfield--they've replaced most private doctors--are moving to telemedicine for non-Covid-19 appointments.

Governor Gavin Newsom is warning that California won't see its peak infections until May.

The good news is that California is doing well relative to other states in bending the curve. We'll have more infections and more deaths than most because of our population of 40 million.

This is in contrast to the state of Indiana where I was born. The state's finally begun to bend the curve. Two weeks ago they were approaching asymptotic to the deadly 35% growth rate.

Fortunately, the USA is not "#1" in the deadly game of Covid-19 infections per capita. We fall below Spain. The bad news is that we rival Italy for infections per million inhabitants. If you saw horrific videos of what is or was happening in Italy that's where we're headed. Buckle up.

Madison County, Indiana, where most of my family still lives, has 101 cases with 9 deaths so far. The county has a population of 130,000. It has almost three times the number of cases relative to population as Kern County here in California. The death rate is even more disproportionate, but may be statistically unrepresentative as there have been so few deaths in Kern County--so far.

It's raining here in normally sunny California. That's good news in the drought-stricken state. We're looking forward to a profusion of the state's famed wildflowers--even if we're sheltering in place.

We'll take any good news we can get.


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