Operations have been suspended at the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District as personnel continue a two-week quarantine after the death of an employee due to COVID-19.
Fernando Fregoso, a vector control technician in his 50s, died June 11, spurring in-person operations to temporarily shutter until June 25, according to Tammy Gordon, a district spokeswoman.
“It’s still pretty raw,” Gordon told City News Service. “You just don’t expect it, particularly how fast it happened.”
Fregoso’s wife informed the district on June 11 that her husband was infected with coronavirus, and by the next day, he had died.
It remains unclear if Fregoso suffered from underlying health conditions.
In the past week, three more district employees tested positive for coronavirus, although Gordon did not report serious health effects for those employees.
Despite spraying operations and other in-person tasks being shuttered due to the coronavirus, some employees continue to work remotely at home.
“Right now, the priority is making sure our staff is healthy and ready to get back on the ground,” Gordon said. “We’re getting our protocols in place and starting to get ready for getting back to work.”
The district’s closure comes as 17 mosquitoes previously tested positive so far this year for West Nile virus in La Quinta and Cathedral City, although Gordon said several scheduled spraying operations aimed at squashing the threat had completed prior to the closure.
One in five individuals infected with the virus, for which there is no cure, will exhibit symptoms that can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea or a skin rash. Symptoms can last several days to months.
One in 150 people infected with the virus will require hospitalization. Severe symptoms include high fever, muscle weakness, neck stiffness, coma, paralysis and possibly death.
No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Riverside County.
Work also remains unfinished eliminating the threat of mosquitoes infected with St. Louis Encephalitis, a viral disease that can be transmitted to humans, which initially cause flu-like symptoms and in rare cases, death.
Thus far, 31 mosquitoes, primarily in the eastern Coachella Valley, have tested positive for St. Louis Encephalitis.
Mosquito season in Southern California generally spans May to October.