Community News

Northern Inyo Hospital Officials Discuss Inyo County’s 20th COVID-19 Case

Dr. Stacey Brown and Dr. Will Timbers of Northern Inyo Healthcare District told KIBS/KBOV News that a patient has tested positive for COVID-19.

The positive result is the twentieth confirmed case of coronavirus in Inyo County.

“We had our first positive case after quite awhile this week. Just this morning, we got a result of a positive swab from the drive through testing line on Wednesday. The fact that we have broken our long streak of negatives, requires a little more consideration that the virus has spread around,” Brown said.

Rural Health Clinic Director, Dr. Stacey Brown, said that at this point, he is not sure if the confirmed case is the beginning of an uptick in cases. “We don’t know if this is the beginning of the second surge or if it is something sporadic.”

Dr. Brown said that it would be alarming if this is the beginning of a second wave of infections due to the lack of herd immunity in the community. “I think it is a huge concern for us. We don’t have any herd immunity, so we are a naive place for this virus to settle in,” Brown remarked.

Though it is too soon to determine if the twentieth confirmed case of COVID-19 is the beginning of a surge in cases, Brown says Northern Inyo Hospital is prepared regardless. “We are doing great on a district level. We are super prepared for whatever hits the door. We have personal protective equipment, staff and resources. We are ready for the community when they need us,” Brown expressed.

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Will Timbers, believes the community has done an outstanding job when it comes to curtailing the spread of COVID-19 as evident by the forty-one days without a positive case. “The forty-one days we had without a COVID patient was all because of the community taking the proper precautions. I want to give a shout-out to the community for doing such a great job,” Timbers said.

Inyo County Has Its 20th Confirmed Case of COVID-19

Inyo County has its twentieth confirmed COVID-19 case. The patient was tested on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 via Northern Inyo Hospital’s drive through testing site.

Results came back positive for COVID-19 on the morning of Friday, May 29, 2020.

The patient is currently isolated at home while Inyo County’s  Public Health Department conducts contact tracing for individuals who are associated with the positive patient.

This is the first positive COVID-19 case in Inyo County in forty-one days.

 

Fishing Season is Open in Inyo County

As requested by county officials, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham is lifting the delay of the trout opener in Inyo County. Beginning May 28, trout season will be open in the county.

The trout season was originally scheduled to open in Inyo County on April 25, 2020. In April, CDFW had discussions with county leadership regarding trout fishing, which typically draws a high tourism influx to the area. Local officials were concerned about the transmission of COVID-19 and its potential to put a strain on their healthcare systems. Further, all non-essential businesses including lodging, dining and camping options were closed in compliance with state and local public health officers’ orders. Thus, CDFW, in consultation with Fish and Game Commission President Eric Sklar, delayed the opener through May 31, 2020.

However, in a letter yesterday, Inyo County officials requested that CDFW end the delay before May 31, indicating that the county received approval from the California Department of Public Health to move into the Governor’s Phase Two, Stage Two Resilience Roadmap and would begin discussions of reopening. Though county officials requested the opening on May 27, CDFW required one additional day for consultation and processing this request, thus the delay in Inyo County will expire at midnight on May 27 and fishing can resume on May 28, 2020.

This decision does not affect the trout season in any other county.

CDFW reminds anglers to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of access points as many site closures and access restrictions exist and may change daily.

Pursuant to the emergency regulation approved by the Commission, CDFW will provide accurate information for the angling public at this website or by phone at (916) 445-7600.

Northern Inyo Hospital Alters Diagnostic Lab Protocol

As the nation opens back up for business, so is the Northern Inyo Healthcare District. The District remains operational with a few limitations. The District asks those returning to its laboratory for blood work to help the District keep all returning patients safe by remembering to schedule their lab appointments.

Two options are available for lab draws at this time. Patients may request an in-house lab draw. This means they would enter the hospital lobby, check-in with admissions, answer COVID-19 screening questions, and then be escorted to the lab room for their draw. Hours for in-house draws are 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

Alternatively, if the test allows and time permits, patients may request a drive-up car appointment. This allows patients to stay in their vehicles as masked and gloved NIHD phlebotomists come to them in the hospital parking lot.

Car appointments are limited to morning hours, Monday through Friday, 6 -11 a.m., due to the increasingly warm weather. No car appointments are available on Saturdays due to staffing.

NIHD requires patients and their staff to wear masks at all times while on the NIHD campus. Those needing a mask will be given a Project Cover-Up fabric mask for their visit at check-in.

According to Diagnostic Services Director Larry Weber, the District is experiencing heavy walk-in visits for blood draws. While staff welcomes the return to the hospital for such services, it is also filling up the waiting room areas. “We’ve taken steps to promote physical distancing in all our wait rooms,” Weber explained. “We’ve essentially eliminated about half of our normal seating, so when we experience a large number of walk-ins, we struggle to meet those physical distancing requirements.”

Weber strongly suggests patients make a lab appointment when given draw orders by their primary care providers. “This is a system we went to more than a year ago, and it has worked out very well, resulting in minimal delays for patients,” Weber said. “It also helps us better plan for the arrival, screening, and safe care of the patients.”

To make a lab appointment, call (760) 873-2155. Should you have additional questions about available services at NIHD, please call (760) 873-5811 for assistance.

Inyo County Potentially “Sitting Ducks” for Next Wave of COVID-19

Northern Inyo Healthcare District has good and bad news pertaining to COVID-19. The hospital has conducted 279 antibody tests for its employees, and discovered that only two individuals out of the 279 tested had antibodies to the coronavirus.

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Will Timbers talked about the widespread testing saying. “279 employees have been tested and only two people have tested positive so far, which suggests we are somewhat of a naive community.”

The lack of exposure is a double edged sword. Though it is positive that coronavirus has not had a large presence in Inyo County, it could be problematic down the line since the community cannot rely on “herd immunity.”

The employee antibody test that has been distributed to nearly three-quarters of the healthcare district’s employees is likely a safe measurement when it comes to assuming that the general population does not have a large amount of immunity. “This is a warning sign as we reopen and recirculate. We shouldn’t kid ourselves that we have herd immunity in the community.” Chief of Staff, Dr. Stacey Brown said. “We are sitting ducks for another wave of infection just like we were in February and March with the lack of herd immunity.”

Both Dr. Brown and Dr. Timbers both acknowledged that the community cannot be shut down for forever. However, Dr. Timbers believes that a fine line must be walked when it comes to reopening. Timbers said, “We are going to need to find a steady state between opening things up and living our lives.”

Mono County Will Open Fishing Season on May 23, 2020

CDFW Letter About Fishing Season:

On April 15, 2020 the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) adopted emergency regulations, California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 8.02, providing the Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department) the ability to delay, suspend, or restrict sport or recreational fishing for particular species or areas to ensure that anglers, local communities, and government employees are protected from increased risk of transmission of COVID-19. This ability is conditioned on coordination with local government and Tribes, and consultation with the President of the Commission.

After direct conversations with county leadership, the Department acted to delay the trout fishing opener scheduled to start on April 25, 2020, in Mono County. Also after county coordination, in an effort to protect wild trout fisheries and stocked fisheries that remained open in Mono County, the Department reduced bag and possession limits in a few, limited streams. These changes went into effect April 22, 2020, and are set to expire May 31, 2020.
On May 21, 2020, the Department received a letter from the Mono County Board of Supervisors requesting that the opening day of fishing season be moved from June 1, 2020 to May 22, 2020 as the county received approval from the California Department of Public Health to move into the Governor’s Phase Two, Stage Two Resilience Roadmap. In response to this request, I am revising the May 31, 2020 end date for the current fishing restrictions in Mono County. Because the county’s letter was received near close of business on May 21, and the Department required one additional day for consultation and processing this request, both the delay and the previously adopted bag and possession limit changes will now expire on May 22, 2020 to allow for a May 23, 2020 open to fishing.

Attached to this memorandum is a comprehensive summary of the changes to sportfishing regulations that remain in effect through May 31, 2020, (Attachment 1) and the formal regulation changes (Attachment 2).

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, please contact Roger Bloom, Acting Chief, Fisheries Branch at Roger.Bloom@wildlife.ca.gov.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Implement Online Hunter Education Classes

CDFW Press Release

In response to the delay of in-person California hunter education classes due to COVID-19, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is temporarily allowing new hunters to complete their education requirements entirely online.

Prior to COVID-19, California offered a traditional in-person course or a hybrid online/in-person class with a certified Hunter Education Instructor (HEI). Because all classroom instruction opportunities have been suspended, California will temporarily waive the in-person requirement, allowing students to complete the full course of instruction online.

“Online-only certification is a temporary solution to allow Californians the ability to fulfill their hunter education requirements and obtain a hunting license during these unique times,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “We don’t want anyone to miss out on the chance to earn their certification before the fall hunting seasons, so we believe this is a reasonable solution, given the circumstances.”

When deemed safe to do so, CDFW intends to return to the prior system, including a minimum level of in-person instruction with a certified HEI. “We value our 1,000 extremely dedicated volunteer instructors enormously, and we’re anxious to see them back in front of students as soon as possible,” Bess added.

Effective immediately, prospective hunters may earn their hunter education certification online. More information is available at https://wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education. The cost for the course is $24.95. Successful prospective hunters who complete and pass the online course will be able to immediately print a paper Hunter Education Completion Certificate, which will qualify them to purchase a hunting license. Their CDFW online license profile will automatically be updated with their Hunter Education Certification within two days.

Prospective hunters are advised that the deadline to apply for California’s Big Game draw is June 2, 2020. CDFW advises new hunters to set a goal of completing the online certification by May 31, to allow time for the automatic update of their CDFW license profile. CDFW license profiles can also be updated by presenting the paper certificate to a CDFW License Agent.

Convicted Felon Arrested in Bishop

Press Release from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office

BISHOP, CA, May 20, 2020 – On May 19 at approximately 10:30 PM, Inyo County Sheriff’s Deputies contacted and arrested Bishop resident and convicted felon, 48-year old Keeneeh Watterson, for active Inyo County Arrest Warrants. Watterson was arrested without incident and transported to the Inyo County Jail.

Inyo County Sheriff’s Deputies and MINT Investigators conducted a search of Watterson’s residence pursuant to Watterson’s terms of Post Release Community Supervision. During the search, Deputies located several items of concern including a loaded AR-15 style rifle with loaded magazines, an improvised explosive device (IED), approximately fifty pounds of Ammonium Nitrate blasting agent, a live blasting cap, and several live rounds of ammunition. All of the items were safely removed from the residence and retained as evidence.

Watterson was booked into the Inyo County Jail on the Inyo County Arrest Warrants, which included a No-Bail Warrant, along with the additional charges of: CPC 18710(a) – Possession of a destructive device; CPC 18720 – Possession of materials with intent to make a destructive device; CPC 29800(a)(1) – Felon in possession of a firearm; CPC 30305(a)(1) – Felon in possession of ammunition; and, CPC 3455(a) – Violation of terms of post release community supervision.

Local Church and Restaurant Donate Gifts and Food to Hospital Workers

Generosity abounded when Bishop’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church chose to donate the Easter baskets it normally prepared for the parish’s annual Easter Egg hunt to local healthcare workers. With the country on the recent Stay-Home orders, Father John Gracey wanted to offer the baskets chocked full of traditional Easter goodies to healthcare workers. Gracey and his staff, Lyn Schwanke and Lorena Franco, shown above with the baskets, felt the gesture would assist those who may not have had the chance to prepare for the holiday due to unexpected work commitments brought on by the pandemic. The baskets were presented to chosen staff members after supervisors put their names forward for consideration. Please note photo was taken before mask requirements were put into place. Photo by Barbara Laughon/Northern Inyo Healthcare District

 

ALSO:

Manny Singh, owner and operator of Bishop’s Subway restaurant, recently expressed his gratitude for the efforts put forth by frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing lunch for several departments at Northern Inyo Healthcare District. Singh and Estera Granados, far right, delivered the fresh and tasty sandwiches to NIHD’s Main Lobby, where NIHD team members John Harmon, Brooklyn Burley and Justin Nott warmly greeted them. In addition to the Subway shops in Bishop and Mammoth Lakes

Galen Norsworthy Obituary

Galen Duane Norsworthy was born in Hanford, CA on May 18, 1948. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on May 9, 2020 in Bishop, California. He was 71 years old at his passing.

Galen was preceded in death by his parents George and Violet Norsworthy. Galen is survived by his brother Lauren Norsworthy, his beloved and cherished wife of 48 years, Lita Norsworthy, his strong and beautiful daughters, Katrina Otten and Alicia Vorhees, his sons-in-law, Adam and Matt, and his nine wonderful grandchildren: Isaiah, Caleb, Elliana, Wesley, Evan, Jada, Abigail, and recent arrivals, Grayson and Hudson. Galen was a proud Papa!

Growing up in a minister’s home, Galen mastered the art of being a pastor’s kid by day and running the streets of San Francisco by night. That all changed when Galen joined the military. In 1968, Galen enlisted in the Navy and served in the Vietnam War. God used that experience to get Galen’s attention and solidify his faith in Jesus Christ.

Upon his return, Galen attended Azuza Pacific University, where he met his would-be wife, Lita. While working on his degree, Galen was introduced to a depth of Bible teaching that would forever change his life. From that point on, Galen was relentless in exercising his clear gift for handling and communicating God’s Word. Everywhere Galen taught the Bible, people gravitated toward his wealth of knowledge and his passion for knowing and applying Scripture.

This led to a church plant in Santa Cruz, California, and one of the parishioners took a particular interest in him, and on January 22, 1972, Lita married her pastor. However, Galen sensed a need for deeper Bible training, which eventually led their path to Houston, Texas. It was there that Galen joined the Army in 1973 and became an Airborne Ranger. Galen was extremely proud of his military service. He was a true patriot, modeling love for country and sacrificial service to others. Galen would eventually complete his military career in the Army Reserves after a tour in Desert Storm.

While in Texas, God gave Galen and Lita two beautiful girls, Katrina and Alicia. Galen loved his family! As a military and a family man, Galen completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Houston. All the while, he continued to teach God’s Word faithfully. Eventually Galen felt the need for formal Biblical training, which led the family to Portland, Oregon to attend Western Seminary in 1986. There he thrived in his studies, watched his girls grow up, served in ministry at a few different churches, and worked on campus until his graduation in 1994 with a Master’s of Divinity.

Then in 1998, Galen agreed to come help his uncle Virgil run Ducor Telephone Company. This eventually drew the rest of the family to Bakersfield, where Galen and Lita started a fruitful college-aged ministry at Laurelglen Bible Church. God was honored and He blessed the ministry abundantly! From this ministry, God has raised up pastors, missionaries and mature believers in all sectors of society. While Galen was working with young adults, God was kind to raise up a couple of young men that Galen was proud to call his sons and let marry his daughters.

Toward the end of Galen’s career with the telephone company, he was able to work remotely and moved to Bishop, California to be near his oldest daughter and grandkids. Like always, Galen jumped right into serving in ministry, becoming very active in the community, and was serving as an elder in his church at the time of his passing.

Galen was a beloved husband, the best father and grandpa, a military hero, a wise and gifted pastor, a generous business owner, and a faithful servant of Christ Jesus. As Galen would often put it, he was “promoted” on May 9, 2020, being welcomed by the Savior whom he served all his life with this greeting: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” He will be dearly missed, but in Christ, death is never goodbye, only see you later.