Imperial County

‘It's Too Little, Too Late': Sentiments From El Centro Residents Amid Growing COVID-19 Cases

Imperial County has seen 5,549 cases of COVID-19 and 70 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The county has a population of 181,215, according to the U.S. Census.

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The small border towns of El Centro and Calexico in Imperial County are getting national attention due to their growing number of coronavirus cases.

Imperial County has a population smaller than the City of Chula Vista and has faced more than 5,000 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

The pressure is on at the county's largest hospital, El Centro Regional Medical Center, which continues to add beds and hospital space for patients.

"The staff is exhausted because we've been doing this since the first of March," said Dr. Adolphe Edward, chief executive officer for El Centro Regional Medical Center (ECRMC). "120 to 130 days of non-stop work. Of course, you're going to get exhausted, of course, you're going to express that you're really tired."

The hospital is also transferring COVID-19 patients at a high rate, sending them to hospitals around California including San Diego and Stanford.

NBC 7 asked Dr. Edward where the spike of cases and spread was coming from.

"When Yuma opened and when San Diego opened, our own families here are going to Yuma and San Diego and coming back," he responded. "So, how do you really figure the epidemiology of the population?"

South of El Centro is Calexico which borders the Mexican border town of Mexicali. Baja California Health officials said their hospitals are 90% full of COVID-19 cases.

Some Imperial county residents blame the county saying their efforts were "too little, too late." The Imperial County Health director disagrees.

"We've been working Monday through Sunday and very long hours trying to keep the community safe and healthy and we're going to continue doing that," said Imperial County Health Director Janette Angulo.

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