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As virus surges and Newsom calls for action, Imperial County officials decide no changes

With hospitals full and coronavirus cases spiking in Imperial County, just south of the valley, people there are being urged to stay at home.

Governor Newsom called on Imperial County officials Friday to "reinstitute" their stay at home order. The problem – it's remained in effect since March 31.

County leaders said they are pleading with their constituents to comply.

Imperial County leads the state with the highest coronavirus positivity rate: nearly one in five tests are coming back positive. State officials warn there likely are many more than that going undetected.

But after an emergency board of supervisors meeting Friday evening, Chairman Luis Plancarte announced there would not be any changes in response to the governor's recommendation.

"At this point, there is no decision to make any changes yet," Plancarte said. "We will look at where some changes could possibly be made."

Imperial County's small healthcare system has been overwhelmed for more than a month.

With the two hospitals there at capacity, Newsom announced in recent weeks, 500 patients have been transferred out and around the state, including to Riverside County.

"We are now in a position working with county officials and advising them to pull back," Newsom said.

But the governor's call for action effectively changed nothing. Low-risk stage two businesses in Imperial County will remain open for the time being.

News Channel 3 asked Chairman Plancarte about protecting farm workers – a substantial group in rural Imperial County who are considered essential and often work without social distancing.

His response: "We will definitely be looking at every possibility to try to look at that."

Plancarte said he and county officials would work with Newsom over the weekend to address any changes that may need to be made.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.


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