RRH positives trending up

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

RRH positives trending upUpdated July 2, 2020

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In one week, the number of positive test results for COVID-19 gathered by Ridgecrest Regional Hospital has gone from 13 to 35.

Although privacy laws prohibit RRH from divulging patient information, the spike coincides with a positive test result from Immanuel’s Child Development Center, which was reported to parents over the weekend.

In a text message to parents of ICDC, officials reported that the center will be closed for a week for cleaning and disinfecting, and will not reopen until July 6.

Indian Wells Valley Water District posted a message to Facebook Sunday evening noting that “several IWVWD employees take their children there for daycare. As a precaution, they are being required to be tested before they can return to work.

“This has a significant impact on our customer service and will require that we close our office to walk-in traffic indefinitely.”

However, parents of other children under ICDC’s care have expressed concern that the school’s message to them included no information about who might specifically be at risk for exposure, or instructions for self-isolation protocol.

Local healthcare officials noted that a private business lacks the authority to order individuals into self-isolation.

“The employer can collect data, but contact tracing is frankly the responsibility of the Public Health Department,” said Ridgecrest Regional Hospital CEO Jim Suver.

When the News Review asked KCPHD officials for guidance on the protocol for positive results for coronavirus, Public Information Officer Michelle Corson said “We recommend all people who have COVID-19-like symptoms or is a close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case to self-quarantine for 14 days. Parents should inquire with the childcare facility as to whether their child was a close contact to a positive case.”

The News Review has left multiple messages at ICDC, but at press time none had been returned. However, on Wednesday the facility director released a letter to parents.

“RRH CEO Mr. Jim Suver has been very proactive and reached out to me immediately regarding any testing needs,” she said. “Mr. Suver is also ready to test our children and families if anyone would like to get the test done.”

Officials of IWVWD noted that the hospital is assisting them with organization-wide testing as well..

“What we have to remember about COVID is that outbreaks are rapid and exponential,” said Suver. “One infected person who is asymptomatic can pass on the illness very quickly.”

Publishing the numbers can be a doubled-edged sword, he said. Sometimes, the increase in cases translates into the public taking additional precautions.

“But there is another school of thought that, if your numbers are small, people get a false impression of low risk. That leads to complacency in adhering to precautions like wearing a mask and social distancing,” said Suver.

“The true cause-and-effect is that, once you abandon those precautions, your risk for an outbreak increases. That may be what we are seeing now in these numbers.”

See related story (news-ridgecrest.com/news/story.pl?id=0000011560).

Pictured: Immanuel CDC was locked to the public this week. — Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2020-06-29