Borrego Sun - Since 1949

The Battle Begins


Last updated 4/27/2020 at 12:33pm

The reality of the virus is now upon us...

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread across the globe, officially declared as a pandemic on March 11, by the World Health Organization.

“We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

In a live address in the White House Rose Garden on March 13, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, and said he would give states and territories access to up to $50 billion in federal funds to combat the spreading of the COVID-19. He added, “I’m urging every state to set up emergency operations centers effective immediately.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency on March 4. He later announced a public health order banning mass gatherings of 250 people or more through the end of March. Adding to that ban, on March 15, he announced a closure to bars, pubs and wineries in the state. Restaurants can remain open, however, are required to reduce their capacities by half.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that for the next eight weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States. However, the CDC updated guidelines March 16 that all are urged to limit gatherings to 10 and under for the next 15 days.

Borrego Springs currently has a large senior population, who also happen to be the most susceptible to COVID-19 infection, however, there have been no confirmed cases in the area. Newsom requested that those who suffer from chronic conditions and persons who are 65-and-over to self-isolate.

Borrego Health Clinic, Public Information Officer Gary Rotto reports they have limited supplies of Coronavirus test kits.

“Please call the clinic at 760-767-5051 prior to coming in for testing, because we need to ask you questions first to determine if you should be tested or perhaps referred to another facility.”

Rotto also adds that the Clinic is following all CDC protocols and is working with County officials in a coordinated response. Also, you may be evaluated prior to entry at the Clinic.

In an abundance of caution due to the COVID-19 outbreak, several Borrego Springs events have already been cancelled including the Circle of Art, Sundowner’s, art workshops, town hall meetings and fundraisers.

The following is a current list of businesses who have closed or adjusted their hours due to the virus as of March 16.

The Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce will be closed to foot traffic from March 16 to April 3, according to Executive Director Françoise Rhodes, but staff will be able to provide information via phone.

The de Anza Desert Club issued a statement to its members that they have closed the clubhouse bar and dining room indefinitely until further notice, but the golf course will still be active.

The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Store and Visitor Center will be closed until further notice. Staff will be available outside of the VC to provide park information.

The Borrego Springs Water District has also closed their offices from March 16 until April 13. Water/sewer payments (no cash) will continue to be accepted thru the Drop Box located next to the front door of the office. All other activities associated with billing, system operations and emergency response will remain unchanged. If a customer needs assistance day or night, call 760-767-5806.

The Borrego Springs Unified School Districts has closed until March 30. The District is offering breakfast and lunch to students from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. for pick up in the cafeteria.

The American Legion Post 853 suspended all food services until further notice. This includes Wednesday Hamburger Nights, Saturday Meals, and Sunday Breakfasts.

The Red Ocotillo and Coyote Steakhouse will be temporarily offering No-Contact home delivery service for lunch and dinner seven days a week until further notice.

As of March 13, the Borrego Sun will remain open, but be closed to foot traffic. We will be made available by phone or email, and be selling the paper outside of the door during normal business hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Borrego Springs Fire Protection District is well prepared for any emergency, according to Chief John Hardcastle, stating they have the trained personnel, equipment, and health & safety protocols already in place to serve patients and protect first responders.

The Borrego Valley Endowment Fund, says Board President Bob Kelly, is now searching for a coordinator to be the point-person on health issues and responses, to be hired when the first case of COVID-19 infection is verified in Borrego.

The managers and leaders of the RoadRunner Club, the RRC Association, have met and created an action plan which includes keeping the residents informed and fully updated on events.

The Coronavirus, which was first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, has had time to incubate in the general U.S. population, so it’s not about containment anymore, but rather all about “mitigation,” that is, what to do now that the virus is widely distributed and infections are spreading rapidly in a U.S. population of over 327 million. The Coronavirus is reported to be 10 times as lethal as most other flu viruses.

Confirmed cases in the United States continues to climb, and as of March 16 has reached over 3,400 with the death toll rising to 68.

Travel-related cases is at 205 with close contact at 214. For the state of California, the number of total cases has climbed to 288. Trump announced a travel ban to many European countries, including the U.K.

The CDC estimates that as many as 56,000 people die from the flu or flu-like illness each year. In the last 30 years, the annual death rate from flu-related causes has ranged from 3,000 to 49,000 deaths per year. Per day, worldwide, there are a little over 1,000 deaths because of the seasonal flu.

President Trump added that millions of virus testing kits will become available, but added that many will not need it.

San Diego County District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond reported on March 16, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSSA) officials confirmed that 33 residents have tested positive, four are under federal quarantine, two non-San Diego County residents, for a total of 39 cases.

The County has ample testing kits, but are requesting more, according to Desmond. He also says that if you are feeling any symptoms, to call your health care provider and follow their recommendations.

The United States is facing the prospect that those numbers could grow exponentially, as they did in China, Italy, South Korea and other countries.

Italy was placed under a dramatic lockdown by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. As of March 15, there have been 463 deaths. The country has 9,172 cases so far, the most of any European country.

If the U.S. is to have any chance of avoiding a major collapse of our health care delivery system – number of beds, ventilators, and trained personnel, for example – we as citizens all have to do our part to help flatten and extend the curve of the rate of infection and greatly reduce the need for lots of people to be hospitalized within a short period of time.

Symptoms of the Coronavirus have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for the confirmed disease. The symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure: fever, cough and shortness of breath.

If you show symptoms or have traveled to a country on the CDC watch list, you may be asked to wait in a designated area and be provided with additional instructions, or even sent to a different location to keep your risk of exposure low.

According to the CDC, senior citizens 60 and older are far more susceptible to contracting the virus than those in the younger set, with the most vulnerable sector of the senior population at 80 years and older; these are folks with other possible medical conditions, such as pulmonary or respiratory or immune response issues, that contribute to higher susceptibility to what can become a lethal Coronavirus infection.

The CDC found the fatality rate in China was 14.8% in people 80 and older, as compared to 1.3% in 50+, 0.4% in 40+, and 0.2% in people 10 to 39. Of those contracting the virus, 2.3% of confirmed cases died, but that’s an overall average. The fatality rates also vary by country, as the quality of healthcare and average age of population are both factors.

Borrego’s current lack of verified cases may be due to our relative isolation from large population centers, but things will change, rapidly, if locals come into close contact with infected persons visiting Borrego.

As the numbers of those infected rise, there is a positive to its recovery. As it stands, there is currently a 92% recovery rate.

Everyone and everything is being affected, and an effective and safe vaccine for Coronavirus is probably a year or more away. A clinical trial evaluating a vaccine designated to protect against the new coronavirus began March 16, according to a government official. The first participant in the trial will receive the experimental vaccine under anonymity. The National Institutes of Health is funding the trial, taking place at a Kaiser Permanente research facility in Washington State. However, officials believe it will take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine.

Present treatment consists mainly of providing fluids, giving medicine to alleviate fever, and providing supplemental oxygen in severe cases.

Efforts to ramp-up for massive testing in the population are only now beginning, but early proactive surveillance and testing of senior populations in high density environments (i.e., nursing homes, retirement communities) has thus far not received a high priority.

In addition, a past professor of pathology at University of California San Diego, Dr. James Robb, one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on the Coronavirus and who first demonstrated the number of genes it contained reports, “Humans have never seen this snake-associated virus before and have no natural defense against it.” He does, however, offer valuable advice to persons who should be concerned about contamination by contact with people and inanimate objects:

No handshaking – use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc .;

Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches, elevator buttons, and use a paper towel or a disposable glove to dispense gasoline;

Open doors with a closed fist or hip, if possible;

For children, use disinfectant wipes on child seats where available at stores; only hand sanitizers greater than 60% alcohol are effective;

Use disposable masks to keep yourself from touching your mouth, eyes, and nose with fingers; and importantly,

Stock up on zinc lozenges, with Cold-Eeze being one brand. “These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking Coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx,” Robb said. “Use as directed several times per day.”

Residents should also follow these important tips to help prepare to respond to this public health threat.

Store a two-week supply of food, beverages and water, including food for family pets.

Ensure an adequate supply of prescribed and routine medications are on hand.

Plan ways to care for those who are at greater risk for serious complications and who will take care of sick family members.

If you have family members with increased risk of getting seriously sick, check with your medical providers about symptoms and treatment.

Create an emergency contact list of family and friends, teachers and employers.

Have a plan in case your school, childcare, or employer closes temporarily.

Talk with your children, family, and friends about what to do if an outbreak occurs and what each person would need.

Planning now helps you act more effectively to protect you and your family if COVID-19 reaches you.

*Please note: The numbers stated in this article are as of press time, March 16. For more updated information, please visit the CDC website at

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