EL CENTRO — In the past three weeks, COVID-19 cases have nearly tripled and local health officials expect them to continue to increase.
On July 8, the number of active cases in Imperial County stood at 56. As of Thursday, that number had reached 148 with a daily average new case rate of 5.4 patients per 100,000 residents and a seven-day positive test rate of 4.4 percent.
As of Friday more than 215,000 vaccines had been administered locally. Some 27,000 residents have contracted and recovered from the disease since the pandemic began. Many of those recovered patients have also received the vaccine.
More than a week ago, Imperial County Public Health Director Janette Angulo told the Board of Supervisors that 67 percent of all eligible residents had been fully vaccinated and another 13 percent had been partially vaccinated. Second doses for that 13 percent would bring the percentage of fully vaccinated eligible residents to 80 percent.
Thousands of new doses are still being administered every week.
As recently as a month ago, local health officials speculated vaccinated 70 percent of the local population could provide herd immunity in the community.
However, the recent rise in cases suggests that herd immunity may prove more elusive than expected.
ICPHD reported the surge is due in part because more residents 17 and under are catching the virus. Children under the age of 12 are not eligible to receive for vaccination.
Imperial County Health Officer Dr. Stephen Munday expressed concern with the more contagious and deadly variants, especially for those not vaccinated.
“ We would like everyone eligible to get vaccinated, and the more people are vaccinated, the less COVID will spread in our community,” Munday said in a written response to a question.
After Los Angeles County last week reversed its mask policy to make them mandatory for everyone when indoors, Munday made a recommendation for Imperial County residents to do the same.
On Friday, Munday said he was not going to make his recommendation a mandate. However, he added, this could always change.