Stay-at-home remains law of the land as cases surge

EL CENTRO — In the least-surprising news of the day, the Imperial County Public Health Department announced Monday that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 19 stay-at-home order for the state remains in effect until further notice.

The health department said the governor’s order supersedes the Imperial County Health Officer Order issued March 17. The County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to re-evaluate the local order today.

Newsom’s order enacted restrictions for public gatherings, food establishments, essential and non-essential businesses, and so on.

The health department’s announcement came on a day when it confirmed eight more positive tests for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Imperial County. Thus far, there have been 33 positive cases locally and 177 negative tests, including tests from private labs. Fourteen tests are pending, ICPHD said.

No deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 locally.

Statewide there have been 7,296 cases and 142 deaths, including nine in Riverside County.

Riverside County so far has registered 291 cases. Officials there said they are seeking urgent medical supply donations and medical volunteers to continue its fight during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The incoming surge is not fake nor a hoax. It is real and we have to be as prepared as possible,” said Riverside County Board Chair and Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez. “The need for medical volunteers and medical donations is critical at this point. I have heard from many hospitals and they are all concerned about resources and staffing. Your donations and volunteerism will be greatly appreciated.”

The Riverside University Health System created a list for urgent supplies. Those items include ventilators, cardiac monitors/portable tele system, masks (including, surgical, N-95 or handmade), personal protective equipment (which includes hoods and face guards, filters), isolation gowns and gloves.

RUHS said it is also in need of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, assistants and technicians able to volunteer. Only licensed practitioners or students pursuing degrees in any of these areas may be medical volunteers.

RUHS Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said the medical supply issue hit every county nationwide. As the region’s hospitals brace for an oncoming surge, the need is critical for supplies.

“We want to thank those businesses and individuals willing to donate and volunteer to help us battle this coronavirus,” Saruwatari said. “The generosity is appreciated — and definitely needed. We’re all in this fight together. Together as a community, we’ll get through this.”

On Saturday, the Calexico Unified School District issued an announcement that two of its employees “may have” tested positive for COVID-19.

“It is our understanding that these patients have sought treatment and advice from local health care agencies and are isolated and following all recommended actions,” the school district said in a letter.

The school district said that because of statewide restrictions under Gov. Newsom’s stay-at-home order, the Imperial County Public Health Department has advised it there is “minimal and negligible risk” to students, families, employees and facilities because there was minimal exposure.

“These employees had NO CONTACT with CUSD students and we have notified staff members who may have had contact with these individuals and instructed them to monitor their condition for any signs of infection and practice self-isolation for 14 days from their last contact with these employees,” the school district said.

The district said it is taking all recommended precautionary measures to protect students, staff and the community. Aside from the schools already being closed, “the work location of these individuals will be completely disinfected and no employees with possible exposure to these employees will return until confirmed to be symptom-free for the time period recommended by the health department.”


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