Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner spoke to the Tehachapi Rotary Club on Aug. 6, giving county updates related to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. He reported that the financial impact to the county would result in a $25 million budget hole that would likely be felt by all departments, including the sheriff, fire, library and mental health.
To help close the gap, the county will use some of its reserves, but there will be a seven-and-a-half percent cut to all departments except public safety. Even with these measures, an $11 million shortfall is still expected in the next fiscal year.
The county is trying to get more funds to local businesses with annual revenue of less than $5 million; those funds would focus on local businesses that did not get the original PPP grants that ended up going to large corporations. They issued 940 forgivable loans up to $75,000 per business.
While the county is trying to flatten the COVID-19 curve, it is expected that there may be another surge in February. The county plans to use $12 million to hire 80 traveling nurses to be used at hospitals throughout the county to increase the number of nurses to one for every two patients instead of, in some cases, one for every four.
Scrivner went on to say that there are many COVID testing sites other than the hospital, but the labs just can’t keep up.
“We need two- to three-day results,” he said, calling the 14-day wait some are encountering for results “useless.” He would like to see East Kern County separated from the valley when the governor is considering the reopening of businesses.
Scrivner complimented Tehachapi businesses, including Walmart, for their response to COVID restrictions.
At the Aug. 13 Rotary meeting, Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council President Lydia Chaney spoke to Rotary and told the group that she is working with Scrivner and the Kern County Public Health Services Department to see what can be done to get Tehachapi open again.
Pat Doody is the publicity chair for the Rotary Club of Tehachapi.