Imperial County District 2 Supervisor Luis Plancarte wishes residents of Imperial County a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving during the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23. | MARCIE LANDEROS PHOTO
EL CENTRO — A new rise in active COVID-19 cases in Imperial County — there were 40 more reported this week than last week — was met with a plea from county officials to have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
“As we all get together during this Thanksgiving season, I want to wish everybody a safe, healthy, joyful Thanksgiving Day in the company of all your loved ones and remind you that COVID-19 is still around and continues to propagate itself and jump from body to body,” Imperial County District 2 Supervisor Luis Plancarte said during the county Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23. “So as we gather, which I know that we do and we will, I want to remind everybody to practice it safety to protect those loved ones.”
Janette Angulo, director of Public Health Department, shared during the county’s weekly update on COVID-19 that there were new 364 active cases, 40 more than were recorded in the previous week. Of those cases, 74.2 percent, or 270 cases, were adults, some 21.4 percent, or 78 cases, were in the 5- to 17-year-old range, and 4.4 percent, or 16 cases, were children under 4 years old.
Angulo and the Imperial County Public Health Officer, Dr. Stephen Munday, wished residents in Imperial County a happy and safe Thanksgiving as they prepare to gather and celebrate with loved ones, providing safety tips to protect oneself during the holiday season.
“Holiday safety tips — minimize your COVID-19 risks to protect your health. Vaccinate: pediatric dose, the booster, the additional dose, and first-step doses are available in our community. Wash your hands with soap and water. Wear a well-fitting mask while in indoor public settings. That’s the recommendation,” Angulo said. “If you’re unvaccinated, it’s a requirement. Outdoors is safer than indoors. Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.
“And if you’re sick or have symptoms, stay home,” she added.
While the rise in the cases set a rather bleak backdrop to start the holidays, not all of the news coming from the supervisors was so daunting. District 5 Supervisor Raymond Castillo said via Zoom that he was recovering quickly after his own COVID-19 diagnosis. Castillo announced on Nov. 16 that he had tested positive for COVID on Nov. 12, though his doctor warned he may have been contagious as early as Nov. 10. Castillo said he expects to return in person to the Board of Supervisors meeting in mid-December.
District 1 Supervisor Jesus Escobar followed suit with his own announcement, though not giving thanks for his own health but instead for the health of his daughter and mother after a turbulent two years.
“Happy Thanksgiving. I’m very thankful for … Look, I have a few things that I’m very thankful about and there’s two specifically: My daughter finished chemotherapy and we’re very excited about that. 2020 was a challenge. 2021 was challenging, and I am very thankful that she’s just doing good. It was quite a struggle, but she’s doing good,” Escobar said.
“And then it was my mom’s 80th (birthday) this past Saturday (Nov. 20), so I’m lucky that my mom’s been around for 80 years. And a lot of people haven’t had that privilege, so I am very thankful,” Escobar added. “And I wish everybody had a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving … employees, stakeholders, etc. Have fun and be careful and stay safe.”
Social Services Gets Vacancies Funded
Veronica Rodriguez, director of the county Social Services Department, was granted a request that the county board approve the refunding of two positions, a social worker supervisor II and a social services assistant, which had been vacated and unfunded in 2019 to help balance the county budget at the time.
The two positions have an annual total cost of $156,930, with the supervisor position budgeted at $98,912.94 per year and the assistant position at $58,017.26 per year. The county only contributes 17.5 percent of the funding needed for these positions (the rest is state and federal sources), with the total cost to the county general fund only at $27,463 per year for both positions.
Social Services also requested approval for the distribution of funds accepted by the Board of Supervisors on July 13 from the Emergency Solutions Grant, totaling $3,028,100. In its request, Social Services asked for funding for five programs in total for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, focused on the unhoused and emergency shelter through three different agencies: Catholic Charities, Calexico Neighborhood House, and Spread the Love Charity.
Catholic Charities, Diocese of San Diego is to provide three of the programs, all with a focus on providing emergency shelter to those in need in Imperial County: The Homeless Day Center, with a cost of $291,990, Our Lady of Guadalupe Emergency Shelter at $295,212, and House of Hope at $331,900.
Neighborhood House and Spread the Love Charity are offering rapid rehousing and education programs to the county, in the amount of $316,582 and $699,816, respectively. These program go above and beyond your standard emergency shelter, helping clients not only to find new housing but also assisting them in stabilizing their housing needs to prevent reoccurrence of homelessness.
Probation Department Training and Travel Approved
The Imperial County Board of Supervisors approved allowing the Community Corrections Partnership, a group designed to help guide the Board of Supervisors through public safety realignment funds, to attend the American Probation & Parole Association 2022 Winter Training Institute in Atlanta on Jan. 30 through Feb. 2, with the goal of expanding and developing new programing for Imperial County.
“That’s like the perfect setup for us to start developing and implementing what works in different states to bring it to use here. Usually that’s exactly what we do, we kind of network. For example, our supervision model in county probation, we got it from Virginia. And then we’ve got some stuff from Washington. It works perfectly with our agency because of the evidence (the conference provides), because of the free trial (of using someone else’s experience), and because of all these new trends (that attendees get to be exposed to),” said Elizabeth Sais, assistant chief probation officer, during the meeting.
The board approved 12 people to attend the training, paid for through funds set aside specifically for Community Corrections Partnership training, at an estimated cost of $2,000 per participant, or $24,000 total.
The training will feature more than 40 sessions covering subjects like community supervision, gender issues and diversity, health and wellness, juvenile justice, leadership and management, local issues, mental health and substance abuse, among others. The sessions focus on evidence-based practices, keeping Imperial County on the cutting edge of best practices for the Corrections and Probation Department, according to a county report.