Brawley resident George Doilez Jr. accuses District 4 Supervisor Ryan Kelley of threatening him while Kelley was de-escalating a situation between Doilez, fellow Brawley resident Jarred Reeves, and Imperial County sheriff's deputies before the Dec. 21 county board meeting. Doilez made the accusations during public comment on Tuesday, Dec. 28. | MARCIE LANDEROS PHOTO
EL CENTRO — Although the omicron variant tearing through much of the United States has yet to appear officially in Imperial County, according to the county’s weekly variant report, this region remains near the top of state rankings with 67 cases of COVID (third of all counties) per 100,000 residents over a seven-day average.
This comes as the United States hit a record of active cases on Wednesday, Dec. 29, with 265,427 cases over a seven-day average, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The previous national high came Jan. 11 with about 252,000 daily cases.
The Imperial County Public Health Department did not conduct a weekly COVID update at the county Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 28, but local numbers on the Public Health website on Wednesday showed Imperial County with 729 active infections (an increase of 69 from last week), deaths up to 798 and 36.2 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day average and a positivity rate of 16.2 percent, up from 13.6 percent last week.
On Monday, Dec. 27, El Centro Regional Medical Center streamed one of its reoccurring Facebook Live updates with Dr. Adolphe Edward, chief executive officer, and Dr. Christian Tomaszewski, chief medical officer, in which they talked about treatments and other things.
Edward shared a story of a family who was treated by Tomaszewski and his medical team after visiting the emergency room the night before, highlighting the need for caution during the holidays.
“The story is one family, with over 10 members of the family (who) went to an amusement park. All of them came down with COVID. Three of them were in the emergency room last night getting the monoclonal (antibodies),” Edward said.
On the heels of a discussion of treatment protocols for COVID at last week’s county board meeting, Edward and Tomaszewski spoke of their treatment protocols during the update, sharing that they were in possession of the newest monoclonal antibodies to combat the new omicron variant, but were reserving them for when they had verification that the omicron variant has hit Imperial County.
The presence of omicron, like delta before it, can only be detected through genomic sequencing that occurs on samples sent to public health labs outside Imperial County. The sequencing does longer than determining whether a sample is negative or positive for COVID.
Edward and Tomaszewski also established very clearly that neither of them, nor the staff at ECRMC, would be using any of the unproven treatments, most notably ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, which were touted on Dec. 21 during a presentation by Drs. George Fareed and Brian Tyson.
“Maybe the ivermectin doesn’t hurt you especially (if) you take in low dose, but in high doses it can give you abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. That is a de-worming agent for horses. It’s also a drug that we use for scabies. It does not consistently work for COVID,” Tomaszewski in the livestream. “But if you want to take it, knock yourself out. We are not going to use in the hospital.
“The other thing we’ve gotten questions about (is) hydroxychloroquine. We’ve had one person have a cardiac arrest, probably from hydroxychloroquine,” Tomaszewski said. “It is a cardiac toxin and is definitely not been proven to help with COVID and in fact may increase your chances of death from COVID.”
Meanwhile, at the county board meeting on Tuesday, although no COVID update came, lingering COVID-related concerns from last week’s meeting arose over a confrontation that occurred in hallway.
Brawley resident George Doilez Jr., who has spoken at the past few meetings about concerns over mask and vaccine mandates, returned again to speak during public comment, this time accusing District 4 Supervisor Ryan Kelley of threatening him while Kelley de-escalated a situation between Doilez, Imperial resident Jarrad Reeves, and Imperial County sheriff’s deputies before the Dec. 21 meeting.
“He said, pointing at me, while being recorded, when he said, ‘You and I will have words later.’ I’ve left two emails now, calls go to voicemail, and he has not replied, right. I’m asking you guys to get to the bottom of that, because it sounds kind of threaten(ing) to myself and to the rest of the people that have recorded that … he made it very clear to me that no matter what, I’ll be wearing a mask today, threatening again,” Doilez said.
Kelley responded by trying to give Doilez his direct cell phone number, but Doilez interrupted him, shouting “use the email,” repeatedly, before leaving the meeting.
During a recess in the meeting, Kelley responded to Doilez’s accusations, saying very clearly that he had not threatened or pointed during the de-escalation episode, and expressing frustration over Doilez’s unwillingness to talk to him.
“You saw what happened, I tried to give him my cell phone number, but he didn’t actually want it, so what can I do?” said Kelley, adding that he had not received any emails from Doilez prior to the meeting.