Sterile, unused beds at the Alternate Care Site established in the Imperial Valley College gym are shown several months ago. El Centro Regional Medical Center sent its first patient to the ACS on Thursday morning, Nov. 19, as the facility reopens to accommodate patients in this second wave of COVID patients. Pioneers Memorial Hospital has not sent any patients yet. The ACS was elevated from “warm” status to “patient-ready” status last week. | IMPERIAL VALLEY COLLEGE PHOTO
The “curfew” Gov. Newsom alluded to earlier in the week came to pass when California’s health officer updated the statewide health order to basically stop any social gatherings from occurring between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in California’s 41 counties assigned to the purple, or “widespread,” tier.
In a “limited stay-at-home order” from acting state Public Health Officer, Dr. Erica Pan, released Thursday afternoon, Nov. 19, she required “that all gatherings with members of other households and all activities conducted outside the residence, lodging, or temporary accommodation with members of other households cease … except for those activities associated with the operation, maintenance, or usage of critical infrastructure, or required by law.”
Pan’s updated order does not stop people from leaving their homes, “as long as they do not engage in any interaction with (or otherwise gather with) any number of persons from any other household.”
She added the order does not apply to the homeless.
Imperial County Public Health Officer, Dr. Stephen Munday, announced the order during an afternoon press conference with the media, acknowledging that this is essentially the curfew of which Newsom spoke about during his Monday, Nov. 16, press conference when he announced that much of California was rolling back into the state’s most restrictive tier amid rapidly increasing cases of coronavirus and related hospitalizations.
Newsom talked about the possibility of curfews but was noncommittal and said nothing was in the direct offing.
“Yes, in principle this is what they are discussing,” Munday said of the announcement. “Other than essential work, when people are out between 10 (p.m.) and 5 (a.m.), usually they are out in a social setting.”
This order, which goes into effect at 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, and expires at 5 a.m. Dec. 21, goes part and parcel with state and local health orders already in place dissuading large public gatherings, or gatherings in homes with more than three families from outside the household in attendance.
That state order was made stricter by Munday with the caveat that no more than 16 people should be in attendance at that indoor gathering.
The existing and amended orders are especially poignant as the holidays approach and family gatherings become the norm.
Meanwhile, the first COVID-positive patient was accepted into the newly reactivated Alternative Care Site at Imperial Valley College on Thursday morning, Nov. 19.
Although the ACS has been in “patient-ready” status with a limited number of clinical staff available to accept patients, according to Imperial County Emergency Medical Services Agency Director Chris Herring during a press conference late last week, the facility “opened” today with its first patient sent there by El Centro Regional Medical Center.
The ACS takes lower-acuity patients who are on the mend from COVID but still in need of isolation or hospital care in a medically supervised environment.
Hospitalizations, cases rates, positivity percentages and just about any available metric continue to shoot upward, with Imperial County passing the 1,000-mark in active cases on Nov. 19.
During the most recent update at 11:35 a.m., Imperial County at 1,023 active COVID cases for a total of 14,644 positive cases and 13,268 recoveries. The county was at 353 deaths, a 21.24 percent positivity rate, and 37.94 new cases of COVID per day per 100,000 residents (unadjusted).
On the state’s website, it still has the county at 35.1 new cases of COVID per 100,000 residents, and an adjusted rate of 37.6 per 100,000 based on the tier assignment.
For local hospitalizations, there were a total of 68 COVID cases among a total of 179 admitted patients on Nov. 19. El Centro Regional had 50 COVID patients and 120 total admissions. Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley had 18 COVID patients and 59 total admissions.
So far, no patients have been transferred out of Imperial County.
Statewide data showed 1.05 million cases, with 9,811 new cases, and 18,360 deaths, as of Nov. 18.
Few new pieces of information were revealed during the Nov. 19 press conference that brought together Dr. Munday, county Public Health and county administrative officials, and the CEOs from the area’s two hospitals, among others, to provide updates on local COVID-related issues.
Much of what was announced had been in the planning stages and talked about at past press conferences or during updates in different venues. A great deal of it can be read here.