County’s COVID infection rate dropping

The Imperial County Public Health Department Tuesday reported the COVID-19 numbers for the county are improving. PHOTO MICHAEL MARESH

EL CENTRO — The Imperial County Public Health Department Tuesday morning told the Board of Supervisors the COVID-19 numbers that have closed almost all business in the community for more than four months are improving.

Public Health Director Janette Angulo reported the county is no longer owns the state’s highest infection rate.

“We no longer have the highest rate, with nine counties behind us, so we are making progress,” she said.

The Public Health Department also discussed metrics that part of the state’s criteria for moving into Stage 2. Public Health Information Officer Andrea Bowers said Wednesday the county cannot have more than 47.5 new positive cases (based on 25 cases per 100,000 persons) over a two-week period or no more than 8 percent positive testing rate over a seven-day period.

As of Wednesday morning, the seven-day positive test rate had dropped to 13.56 percent, but the two-week number of new cases was more than 600.

Angulo pointed out the two-week totals were reaching the high 700s to 800s in previous weeks. The 13.5 percent or the fluctuating range of 14 percent to 19 percent in the last two weeks was a decrease from the high 20s to low 30s recorded three to four weeks ago, she said.

However, she pointed out that just because the county will reach all of the metrics eventually does not mean the county will be allowed to advance to another stage immediately.

The state, she said, would watch the numbers in the county for another two weeks to ensure the numbers don’t surge again before granting an attestation to move to another stage.

“If you are on the (monitoring) list it is 14 days to get off the list,” Angulo said.

Supervisor Ryan Kelley said Imperial County is not going to be allowed to reopen for at least another five to six weeks.

“I worry for the rest of the state and hope our numbers will continue to go down,” Kelley said.

Supervisor Jesus Eduardo Escobar was not as optimistic, projecting eight to 12 weeks if the county begins enforcing face coverings, social distancing and gatherings to flatten the curve.

Escobar wanted to know what gems the county had learned during the pandemic.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Stephen Munday said when the pandemic began there was little information on face masks and social distancing and their benefits.

“The things we are doing are working,” Munday said. “But keep doing the things that are working.”

Escobar wanted to know what was being done in the enforcement role.

“If we are not enforcing, it is all for naught,” he said.

Angulo will contact the other local municipality police departments to find the number of citations issued and then share that information with the supervisors.

Supervisor Chairman Luis Plancarte said when he passes a city park with children not wearing a face covering he stops and talks with them about the mask’s importance. The next day the same kids are now wearing them, he said.

“It doesn’t hurt us to stop and educate them,” Plancarte said.

Supervisor Ray Castillo was glad to hear the county no longer had the highest cases per capita in the state, saying no one wants to be the worst in anything.

Staff Writer Michael Maresh can be reached at mmaresh@ivpressonline.com.

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