IMPERIAL COUNTY — The Imperial County Public Health Department held a joint press conference Thursday, January 7, to discuss updates with COVID-19 rates, the vaccine rollout, and updates from the local hospitals.
Due to the continued high case rate in Imperial County, El Centro Regional Medical Center CEO Dr. Adolphe Edward announced the Infusion Team personnel was extended to January 17 and the additional help staff that has been temporarily lent to the hospital has been extended to January 25.
Both hospital CEO's said cases within the hospitals remain high.
ICPHD announced in a press release earlier this week that the COVID vaccinations for individuals in Phase 1A, Tier 2, have begun.
In Phase 1A, Tier 1, the vaccine was made available for healthcare workers, paramedics, EMTs, and other individuals providing emergency medical services; dialysis centers, residential and inpatient substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and mental health facilities; skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and similar settings for older or medically vulnerable individuals.
Phase 1A, Tier 1, is still ongoing.
Phase 1A, Tier 2, includes intermediate care facilities for individuals who need non-continuous nursing supervision and supportive care, home healthcare, and in-home supportive services, community health workers, public health field staff, primary care clinics, outpatient SUD treatment, mental health facilities, crisis stabilization units, federally qualified health centers, rural health centers, correctional facility clinics, and urgent care clinics.
Phase 1A, Tier 3, includes individuals in specialty clinics, laboratory workers, dental and other oral health clinics, pharmacy staff not working in settings at higher tiers, and mortuary service industry workers.
According to the ICPHD website, Phase 1B, 1C, 2, and 3 prioritizations are still being finalized and will include various essential workers, other high-risk individuals, and the general public. The information is being updated as limited vaccine supplies increase.
Though Phase 1B and 1C are still pending guidance, ICPHD currently prioritizes the individuals that qualify for those phases.
Phase 1B, Tier 1, includes individuals 75 years of age and older and those at risk of exposure at work in education, childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture. Tier 2 includes individuals 65-74 years of age, those at risk of exposure at work in transportation and logistics; industrial, commercial, residential, and sheltering facilities and services; critical manufacturing; and congregate settings with outbreak risk — including incarcerated and homeless individuals.
Phase 1C includes individuals 50-64 years of age, individuals 16-64 years of age who have an underlying health condition or disability which increases their risk of severe COVID-19, and those at risk of exposure at work in water and wastewater; defense; energy; chemical and hazardous materials; communications and IT; financial services; government operations and community-based essential functions.
Imperial County Public Health Director Janette Angulo said Imperial County has received 3,550 (as of January 5) of the first dose of the vaccine, which is enough to vaccinate tier 1. The County is currently pending the receival of 975 of the second dose of the vaccine.
According to Angulo, there are more than 50 providers interested in becoming enrolled in the State’s vaccine program — which is required to provide the vaccine at a specific location. Currently, both hospitals, five dialysis centers, two correctional facilities, two pharmacies, and a handful of other facilities have been enrolled in the State’s program and are certified to administer the vaccine.
ICPHD has administered 14 vaccines; EMS/EMT has administered 226; El Centro Regional Medical Center has administered 1,008; Pioneers Memorial Hospital District has administered 511; and other facilities have administered several doses as well. Doses reported as administered as of January 7 totaled 1,780.
“We’re rolling out this vaccine as fast as we can,” said Angulo.