The very fabric of
American life being dissolved like a beach sandcastle in the waves by a microscopic
organism, the blows have come faster than they can be absorbed.
nationwide. More than 100 deaths. Schools, restaurants and stores closed.
Hoarding clearing out grocery store shelves as fast as they can be restocked.
Millions isolated in their homes due to the “social distancing” urged by health
officials to slow the COVID-19 flu pandemic.
The “new normal” is
I had seen the panic in stores via social media, I felt at that moment I had
enough food and supplies and thought I could wait until I ran out,” said
Rosalind Servin on March 17.
But any hope
of immunity even from the social chaos quickly fell away, the Brawley resident
walked into Wal-Mart on Sunday night and I noticed the shelves were
empty. I did have to settle for certain items that I normally don’t use,”
not much in stock and very little selection. People were picking items
off pallets themselves and rallying around the boxes of paper towels and toilet
paper. I saw it as very unhealthy,
although I understand that they are just trying to cover themselves,” Servin
People being afraid
of the unknown and on high alert was the vibe Servin said she sensed, and some
even seemed not being reasonable because they were in panic mode.
Even the necessarily
frequent warnings and advice from public and health officials seemed to take
their toll, well meaning as they may be. So many flooded email in boxes of this
newspaper that staff reporters struggled to sort out which were most pressing.
Often, information and stories about it was quickly invalidated by new updates.
the general public said this was noticed this as well.
“We are overwhelmed with
so much information coming from all sides,” said an elderly El Centro resident
who asked to not be identified. “We wish there was one source that is
credible. It is changing daily. We are nervous; and when we get nervous,
we eat. At this rate, we will finish our food sooner. When we get money,
I am worried that there won’t be any food.”
local public agencies scrambled to keep pace, providing a steady flow of
information to the public, and closing off or restricting access to not only
public buildings but public meetings as well.
The city of
Calexico closed public access to its city council meetings indefinitely,
starting with the March 18 meeting that included a scheduled public hearing.
Instead, it accepted written comments by email. Meetings of city commissions were
also cancelled indefinitely.
for council meetings can be sent email@example.com.
A video of the meeting March 18 will be
available on the city’s website by March 20 at noon.
All city recreation
activities were suspended and city parks and the Camarena Memorial Library were
closed. However, book-loaning services are still in place with more information
available by calling the library at (760-768-2170).
Meanwhile, Holtville City
Manager Nick Wells reported on March 16 that “at present we do not plan on
having employees work from home, however recognizing that it is a quickly
evolving situation, we do not consider it out of the realm of possibility.”
Concerning city services he added, “This
is under review, however, at the least we do not envision the City hosting
events in parks, facilities or opening the Pool until there is a clearing of
The city does not accept online payments,
however, Wells encouraged residents to mail in their payments or make use of
the 24-hour drop box to limit both their own exposure and that to city staff.
Of the mood among city employees, Wells
added, “The management staff is cautious of any issues, but do not seem to be
alarmed at this time.”
For the public Wells added, “We advise
people to follow the fairly universal recommendation to limit social contact
(and by extension, use of public space), but do not have any extra restrictions
locally. As previously mentioned, if this extends too far, it will affect the
opening of the City Pool.”
Imperial County Situation
During a March 17 press conference county
Chief Executive Officer Tony Rouhotas Jr. noted the “county of Imperial
will begin restricting public access to nonessential public services starting
Friday, March 20.”
A list of county
departments that includes information on reduced access, “limited walk-in
hours” and “by appointment-only operations” will be posted to
the county website no later than March 19. Rouhotas had no specifics to
share at the press conference, such as which departments would be affected.
For employees a
“continuity of operations plan” has been drafted for this emergency
to protect employees and those they serve, he added, but provided no specifics.
“We remind all of
our employees they are designated disaster services workers” who could be
called upon if needed, Rouhotas said.
restrictions” will go out to individual department heads to be enacted
within 72 hours, he added.
No public bus service
interruptions were reported but Imperial Valley Transit, IVT Access, IVT Ride
and IVT MedTrans on March 17 announced enhanced cleaning procedures to limit
the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“In light of the Novel
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, Imperial Valley Transit (IVT) and associated
services want you to know that we have implemented an enhanced cleaning regimen
on all our buses,” a statement from the transit agency stated.
“All IVT vehicles are
cleaned daily, with additional deep cleanings using bleach to disinfect, and
other solutions recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC),” the
statement added. “Disinfectant is used to wipe down exposed surfaces nightly to
help eliminate germs. Disinfectant is used on buses throughout the day when
opportunities arise. Maintenance teams
sweep, dust & spot mop nightly.
“The cleanliness of our
buses has always been a top priority for us, and now more than ever.”
The agency also urged
riders to follow health guidelines to prevent virus spread.
Court Issues Statement
The Imperial County
Superior Court executives met with justice community (District Attorney, Public
Defender, County Counsel, County Executive Office, Child Support Services) to
figure out how to comply with governor’s safety directives.
announced in a prepared statement included:
All in-custody arraignments will be
conducted by video starting March 25.
Continue all out-of-custody misdemeanor
arraignments for the weeks of March 23 and 30 for four weeks.
Upon agreement of counsel, continue trial
dates out approximately six weeks.
Recommend new cases be continued, upon
agreement of counsel and parties.
In civil and family courts, continue
trials out six to eight weeks that are currently set in the month of March and
Encourage the use of the court’s online
payment system, if possible. Services are found on the court’s website, www.imperial.courts.ca.gov
an effort to reduce the number of persons in court buildings, it is recommended
that persons refrain from bringing family members or friends that are not
specifically a party to their case,” the statement added.
will continue to be summoned and are still required to call in daily and
required to come in if ordered and “in the event that a jury trial must be
conducted, adjustments will be made to the number of persons called in at one time.”
reporters William Roller and Richard Montenegro Brown contributed to this