Home » COVID-19 » UPDATE: COVID-19 NEWS: Mexicali to start new pandemic measures; CDC in Imperial County; ECRMC part of COVID drug trial

UPDATE: COVID-19 NEWS: Mexicali to start new pandemic measures; CDC in Imperial County; ECRMC part of COVID drug trial

Mexicali is Implementing New COVID Measures Over Weekend

The city of Mexicali has issued additional restrictions and protective screening measures to reduce the mobility and protect the health of its population, Imperial County officials were informed June 19.

The additional restrictions will be administered to southbound traffic as individuals are entering Mexicali at the ports of entry, Imperial County officials stated in a press release. 

At the southbound ports, Mexican officials are screening for the requirements below:

1.         Mandatory face masks (or face coverings).

2.         COVID-19-related symptoms (temperature screening).

3.         No more than two persons per vehicle.

4.         Essential travel: visits to Mexicali must be essential under the terms of the sanitary measures.

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5.         No alcoholic beverages, unless these are accredited or permitted to be transported.   

“Mexican authorities will verify that those individuals subject to revision provide an address or Mexican nationality proof. An invitation may be offered to remain at their homes or penalties may be imposed from $3,475 to $17,376 Mexican pesos or up to 36 hours arrest in case of resistance.” Imperial County officials stated in the press release.    

CDC Team Arrived This Week; State CalCONNECT Team Also Here

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deployed a team to Imperial County this week to provide support for contact tracing, binational case investigations, hospital infection prevention and control and reporting, data management, and planning, according to an Imperial County Public Health Department press release.  

The CDC team consists of five staff, including epidemiologists and others. Some of the team members arrived earlier in the week, while others were to arrive June 19, according the county Public Health.

“Our department welcomes the additional support from the CDC. This is an unprecedented time for our community and having the assistance from our federal partners allows us to continue serving our community with the highest level of professionalism that they deserve as we respond to the pandemic,” stated Paula Kriner, epidemiology manager for county Public Health.

Additionally, Imperial County Public Health Department is participating in the California Department of Public Health’s new program for case investigation and contact tracing called CalCONNECT. In addition to more than a dozen local case investigators who have been trained, the state is in the process of assigning and training a total of 10 bilingual case investigators and 10 bilingual contact tracers to investigate cases, identify contacts to those cases, and follow up with the contacts, according to the county.

ECRMC is Part of a COVID-19 Clinical Trial

El Centro Regional Medical Center is participating in a clinical trial for the drug tocilizumab, which goes by the brand name Actemra, to treat COVID-19-positive pneumonia patients, according to a ECRMC press release.

The trial will study the drug and evaluate its safety and efficacy in the treatment of patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia, the June 18 press release states. Tocilizumab is already an approved treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory disorders. It may also help treat patients who have developed or are at risk of developing serious lung damage from COVID-19 infections.

“There are no specific therapies for COVID-19 at this time, but several are being investigated and are in clinical trials,” stated Jorge F. Robles, M.D., principal investigator and chair of Outpatient Clinics at ECRMC, in the release. “Tocilizumab is one of the therapies bringing hope for treating this aggressive viral infection. We are very happy to participate in this trial and optimistic about its benefits to our patients at ECRMC.”

This Phase III clinical trial was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in early spring.

While there are several independent clinical trials on the efficacy and safety of tocilizumab for COVID-19 patients, this new trial will be a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. A double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical study is one in which neither the participant nor the researcher knows who is getting the drug treatment and who is getting the placebo in a controlled group, according to the release.

Participants must be over 18 and hospitalized with a diagnoses of COVID-19 pneumonia and evidence of impaired gas exchange. Patients will receive one intravenous infusion of either tocilizumab or the placebo. A second infusion may be given if clinical symptoms worsen or improve. Funding and resources for the trial are provided by the pharmaceutical company Genetech/Roche, which makes Actemra.

Patient participants will be followed for 60 days post-randomization and an interim analysis will be conducted for early evidence of efficacy. Up to 60 ECRMC patients will participate in this study, the release states.

“It is important to note that these medical trials will be conducted by professionals in a controlled environment. The medications will be administered to participants by physicians who will monitor and evaluate the patients to ensure their safety,” the hospital’s press release stated.