The Latino COVID-19 Task Force held a press conference on Friday, Oct. 2 in front of the Liberty Bell in downtown Bakersfield to announce its goals for Kern’s Latino community. The group is dedicated to increasing COVID-19 testing in the Latino community and help Kern County move to the next tier of state-guided opening.At the ceremony, co-founders Jay Tamsi, attorney H.A. Sala and attorney David Torres, and local Latinx teens delivered key messages.“Access to testing is one of our top priorities, Tamsi says. “We need to ensure that the Latino population is being tested, self-isolating at home when needed to stop the spread of COVID-19. This is a very serious matter for Kern County’s economic state and the physical and mental health of our Latino Community.”The Latino COVID-19 Task Force was formed after multiple community leaders recognized that a disproportionate number of Kern’s positive tests were Latinos. This is due to many holding essential worker professions, such as jobs in the service and farm industries to distribution and public service work. Kern County will remain in the highest tier, the widespread stage, until it can meet state standards, one of which requires an increased number of testing of local residents.“Our county is economically fatigued. Our friends and family are either suffering from the effects of COVID-19 or imminently threatened by it,” Sala says. “Along with following the guidelines for distancing, wearing masks and good hygiene, testing is essential to reducing the spread of the virus and opening our economy, our schools and our businesses.”