Jeff Pack
Staff Writer

According to county emergency officials, 51 patients stricken with coronavirus have recently been transferred into Riverside County hospitals from Imperial County hospitals which have reached capacity.

Another 12 patients originating from Imperial County have walked into county hospitals as well.

Bruce Barton, director of the Riverside County Emergency Management Department (EMD), said in a press release that the jump in the number of COVID-19 cases landing in Riverside County hospitals is due to the fact that there are only two hospitals in Imperial County and both have reached capacity. 

“Riverside County and Imperial County have a long history of working together on the Salton Sea, agriculture, education, and we are partners in the fight against this pandemic,” Riverside County Board Chair and Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, said in the press release issued late Wednesday. “It is fortunate that we have the hospital space to assist our neighbors in Imperial County. It shows how important these hospital beds are and how we need to keep our hospital space available for surges that could come.”

Approximately 180,000 people live in Imperial County, which is home to seven cities — Brawley, Calexico, Calipatria, El Centro, Holtville, Imperial and Westmorland — and eight unincorporated communities, Bombay Beach, Heber, Niland, Ocotillo, Palo Verde, Salton City, Seeley, and Winterhaven.  

Barton said he and the EMD are closely monitoring the system and while the county’s hospital system has been impacted by the Imperial County transfers, they are still well within the capacity of the health system. 

“The goal of the state’s regional distribution plan is to assure these patients receive needed care and are appropriately distributed across Southern California hospitals so that no single county is disproportionately impacted,” Barton said.

The press release indicated that hospitals throughout Riverside County have received the Imperial County patients and hospitals in neighboring counties have pitched in as well by receiving patients. 

Valley News reached out to local hospitals to confirm the transfers in reaction to a social media post that has been circulating since Monday. The county provided the press release as a statement.

The county also reported that as of Wednesday evening there were 193 coronavirus patients in Riverside County, including 63 in ICU. There have been 7,139 confirmed cases and 303 coronavirus deaths in Riverside County.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at