EL CENTRO — El Centro Regional Medical Center and city officials will be holding a press conference this evening to announce whether a patient admitted to the hospital on Sunday has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

ECRMC announced Sunday that a female patient in her 70s met criteria for testing for the COVID-19. The patient had recently returned from Florida, and she is in isolation, pending the test results.

If positive, it would be the first confirmed case of the disease in Imperial County.

Today’s press conference will be held at the ECRMC Medical Office Building located at 1271 Ross Ave., in the conference room on the second floor. During the press conference, officials plan to provide information on the possible case of COVID-19 and on precautionary protocols. 

“Imperial County residents should feel safe and confident that their local government and health care providers at ECRMC are prepared to treat patients with COVID-19,” Mayor Efrain Silva said in a written statement. “We are ready to take the necessary steps to protect the public’s health during this time.”

Meanwhile, neighboring Riverside County’s Public Health Department on Monday confirmed three more cases of COVID-19 there.

Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer, said health investigators believe the three infections were either the result of travel into areas where COVID-19 has been confirmed, or contact with a known case. Two of the individuals have been isolated at home, Kaiser said, while the third is being cared for at a Coachella Valley hospital.

The announcement comes shortly after Kaiser announced over the weekend Riverside County’s first locally-acquired case of a patient who is being cared for at Eisenhower Health in Rancho Mirage. Public health investigators have not been able to determine how the individual was infected, Kaiser said, so it is now considered a case of “community spread.”

Community spread involves transmission of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown. It indicates that the virus was not contracted through relevant travel history or contact to a known case of COVID-19, and suggests that the virus is present in the community.

Kaiser said he is recommending those in the Coachella Valley who are elderly and have underlying health conditions, including individuals who are HIV positive, limit non-essential travel and avoid large public gatherings.

In addition, Riverside County now has a second confirmed case arising from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. This former passenger is also receiving treatment at a Northern California hospital, and like the other former passenger from the Diamond Princess, has not been to Riverside County since leaving the ship. This brings the total number of Riverside County COVID-19 cases to six.

Health officials in both Imperial and Riverside counties continue to stress the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for helping prevent spread of respiratory illness:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating, and after blowing one’s nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

For general information about COVID-19, the public is encouraged to visit the Imperial County Public Health Department’s website at www.icdhd.org, the California Department of Public Health website at www.cdph.ca.gov, or CDC’s site at www.cdc.gov.

The public is encouraged to follow the health department’s official social media platforms for the most updated information.

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