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South Lake Road Construction Update: No Overnight Parking Allowed

Joint Press Release from US Forrest Service and Inyo County

Stating on July 6, and anticipating effective through July 25, the South Lake Road Reconstruction Project will implement no overnight parking in the South Lake area. This will include the Bishop Pass Trailhead Parking, boat trailer parking, and some of the day use parking near South Lake. Additionally, there is  no parking permitted along roadside shoulders during the construction project.

This closure will allow the contractor to pulverize and pave these parking lots. The construction schedule remains Monday – Friday, 6:00 am to 8:00 pm. Expect up to 30-minute delays. Flaggers and a pilot car will manage traffic, allowing alternating two-way traffic.

Hikers entering or exiting the Bishop Pass Trail at South Lake should plan their trips in accordance with the construction schedule. Hikers need to plan for travel delays, re-routed trailhead access, understand that that long-term parking is not available, plan to be picked up or dropped off at the trailhead, consider shuttles to/from trailheads, and utilize alternative trails for resupply, if possible.

Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA)’s Bishop Creek Shuttle is running twice daily Please see the attached for a list of operators who may provide shuttles on the forest. Hiker Shuttles: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd586535.pdf.

The contractor is required to provide 40 day-use parking spaces in the area. However, since this is a popular recreation destination for boating, fishing, and hiking, these spaces will fill up quickly. Visitors should plan that parking, which is difficult in a normal year, will be substantially reduced during this project and will likely not be available.

Additionally, overnight parking will be allowed in the dirt lot just north of the Tyee Lakes Trailhead, including bear boxes for food storage (see attached map). It is approximately a three-mile walk to the Bishop Pass Trailhead via the trail behind Willow Campground that continues near Parchers Resort and connects to the trailhead on the east side of South Lake Road.

Motorhomes and trailers are not recommended past Four Jeffreys Campground unless you have a reservation with Creekside Resort, Bishop Creek Lodge, or Parchers Resort during this period since there is no safe turn-around past this point. Local businesses and services along South Lake Road remain open and accessible.

There is no way to complete a project of this nature without it having a significant impact on visitors to the area. Accessing the area may be, at times, difficult and frustrating.  If you have any flexibility in your plans, please consider a visit to South Lake/Bishop Pass destinations in another year.

As a reminder, the project’s scope stated that Bishop Pass Trailhead Parking and Tyee Lakes Trailhead Parking and certain campgrounds will be closed at times this summer, although access to the trailheads will be maintained

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.”

Northern Inyo Hospital Update: Dr. Brown Implores Public to Wear Masks

Rural Health Clinic Director for Northern Inyo Hospital, Dr. Stacey Brown, spoke to the media on Friday, May 15, 2020, and provided the latest on how hospital is managing in its fight against the COVID-19 crisis.

Brown said that the hospital has the capability to test almost anyone who is feeling symptomatic. “The vast majority of people we test are relatively healthy. However, there are some symptoms people show, and we will test them for coronavirus. If someone has a subjective fever, we will test them. The bar is low for testing,” Brown remarked.

Though there is a low requirement when it comes to a person receiving a COVID-19 test, the bar is still not low enough for an asymptomatic person to be tested. Brown said, “We can’t do testing for asymptomatic individuals; it is just not possible at this time.” The reason it is not possible to test those who do not show symptoms is because there are not enough tests available.

It is no secret that the United States is behind the curve when it comes to administering tests compared to some other countries in the world. Brown gave an explanation as to why acquiring a sufficient number of tests has been so difficult at a federal, state, and local level.

Brown said, “There are so many factors involved when it comes to lack of testing. I think we underestimated the impact that COVID-19 would have. It is what it is though, and we have to deal with what we’ve got.”

With that being said, Dr. Brown believes Northern Inyo Hospital will catch up when it comes to having sufficient testing. “I am a cautiously optimistic person. With the amount of regularity that we are getting relating to antibody testing and nasal swabs, things seem to be much more secure now. We aren’t getting much extra testing, but we are receiving tests, which makes me more comfortable than where things were a month ago.”

The discussion shifted toward the importance of wearing a mask when going into public. On Friday, May 8, 2020, Inyo County Public Health Officer, Dr. James Richardson issued a mandatory face mask order for all Inyo County residents who are out in public. When speaking about the mask order, Brown expressed approval for business owners not allowing individuals to enter their businesses without a mask. “I am happy that a lot of the places that are essential businesses have not been allowing entry to customers who do not have masks on,” Brown remarked.

Though appreciative of the public’s efforts in complying with the mandatory mask order, Brown said he has been seeing a lot of masks with valves on them, which defeats the point of even wearing a mask in the first place. “If you go back to why we are masking in public, it is not about inhaling the virus, it is about spewing virus,” Brown said.  “One-way exhale valve masks are not the tool for what we call source control. Folks come into the district wearing these valve masks, and they are still asked to cover up when they come into the district. It is not doing the job,” Brown said.

Brown thinks it is necessary that the county provides a way of enforcing the public health order issued by Dr. Richardson. “There has to be some teeth on it [the facial cover order.] We need to trust people to do right thing, but verify that they actually are. There should be mechanism or hotline that the public can call and report businesses who are not complying with the order. There has to be threat of a shutdown or a fine if people do not listen,” Brown said.

Mono County Issues Hantavirus Warning

May 14, 2020 – As the weather is warming and people are spring cleaning, Mono County Health Department would like to remind residents of the risk of hantavirus in the Eastern Sierra, a known region of exposure in the United States.

People may catch hantavirus by inhaling virus that is found in the urine, feces, saliva, and nesting materials of infected deer mice. Most people who become ill with hantavirus report some exposure to rodents in the preceding weeks, typically while cleaning enclosed spaces that have been closed-up for some time with mice living there.

For more information on hantavirus, click here.

Hantavirus illness begins with a fever and flu-like symptoms, such as headache and body aches, typically one to five weeks after inhaling the virus. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain are common in the early part of the illness. Respiratory symptoms, including cough and feeling short of breath, may develop after a few days, signaling increased chance of deadly respiratory and heart failure. When people start having trouble breathing, their condition may rapidly worsen and become critical. There is no specific treatment for hantavirus infection, but high-level intensive care has allowed many people with life-threatening illness to survive. Overall, approximately 25-33% people with hantavirus infection die.

It is important to note key similarities and differences between hantavirus infection and COVID-19. For one, COVID-19 is spread from person to person, whereas hantavirus is spread from deer mouse waste. A person with hantavirus cannot spread it to another person. Both infections may present with flu like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, or muscle pains. This is why it is critical for residents to be aware of and avoid exposure to rodents, their waste, and their nesting materials. If you begin experiencing any of these symptoms, you should call your primary healthcare provider or the Mono County Nurse Hotline at 211. Be sure to inform health professionals of any exposures you may have had to both mouse waste and COVID-19. Timely hantavirus and COVID-19 diagnosis and potential transfer to higher level hospital care is crucial as these diseases can progress rapidly.

To decrease risk of hantavirus infection:

• Open windows and doors of a potentially contaminated area and allow it to air out for at least 30 minutes before cleaning. Cross-ventilation is best.

• Avoid sweeping, vacuuming or other activities that stir up dust and dirt that may contain the virus.

• Spray dead rodents, nests, droppings, and other potentially contaminated items and surfaces with a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach with 10 parts water) or a disinfectant made to kill viruses (check the label). A dead mouse caught in a trap should not be removed from the trap. Instead, the trap and mouse together should be disinfected, bagged and discarded into the trash.

• Wait at least 5 minutes after spraying the disinfectant on things before wiping.

• Inspect vehicles for rodents. Mice incursion in vehicles may also pose some hantavirus risk, especially if mice infest the heating and air conditioning system.

• Minimize mouse entry points at home and at work. Mice may enter through very small gaps under doors or around windows and where conduits and vents pass through walls. Heating and air conditions ducts should be periodically inspected for holes and/or rodent feces or nesting material.

Inyo County to Discuss Reopening With Business Owners

Local Business Task Force Presents a Business to Business Webinar to Discuss Reopening

 
INYO COUNTY, CA, May 11, 2020: The County of Inyo has teamed up with area business leaders to form a Local Business Task Force.  The group consists of one representative from each of the following sectors: 

  • Lodging
  • Food & beverage
  • Retail
  • Childcare
  • Personal services
  • Non-profit
  • Events and entertainment
  • Inyo County Administration / Information Technology
  • Public Health

 
The purpose of this group is to assist all local businesses by ensuring they have the most up to date information regarding rules and best practices as prescribed by state and county officials.  It is important to note the Task Force is not creating rules, rather providing technical assistance, and acting as a liaison between businesses and government health officials.

A menu item on the Inyo County COVID-19 webpage is now available for the public to receive email notifications that are specific to Reopening Businesses in Inyo County. If you are interested in receiving updates, please go to the following link:

https://www.inyocounty.us/covid-19  – click “Reopening Inyo Businesses” and sign up.

The Task Force will host a Zoom webinar on Wednesday, May 13th at 3pm and all local businesses are invited and encouraged to tune-in

https://zoom.us/j/96234465375?pwd=bkJ6MHhObVA3enNGTS9SOStGb2ZPQT09
Prior to the webinar, questions may be submitted to the panel by email at
businessinfo@inyocounty.us   In order for the questions to be addressed during the presentation, please submit no later than 5pm, Tuesday, May 12th.

Bishop Paiute Tribe Planning Reopening Phase

May 7th, 2020 – As the pandemic stabilizes, the Bishop Paiute Tribe has planned a measured and strategic approach to allow employees to return to work safely to prevent a resurgence of the virus. This must be done in the most effective, efficient, and risk-averse way possible to balance the return of governmental and economic stability, while simultaneously continuing to keep employees and tribal members safe by controlling the spread of the disease.

The tribe’s re-opening plans are currently being crafted at the departmental, tribal, and public levels, and will be announced as they are developed and finalized. Updates will be available to the public as they occur on KBPT-LP 96.1fm and on the Tribe’s website and Facebook page.

The Bishop Paiute Tribe is a federally recognized Indian tribe located on its 879 acre Bishop Paiute Reservation in Inyo County, California. The Reservation was formed under Congressional Act 5299, P.L. No. 43 of April 20, 1937. The Tribe is committed to the well being of its people. For more information please contact the Bishop Paiute Tribe at (760) 873-3584.

Coronavirus Town Hall Recap: When Will Normal Life Return?

On Thursday, April 9, 2020, Inyo County hosted a virtual town hall meeting to discuss the coronavirus. Officials from all healthcare facilities including, Toiyabe, Northern Inyo Hospital, and Southern Inyo Hospital, along with key figures from the City of Bishop and Inyo County were in attendance.

In total, twelve panelists were present during the discussion, with over 250 citizens tuning in to the town hall.

Inyo County Administrative Officer, Clint Quilter, served as the moderator, fielding questions from the public, and allowing each panel participant to give an update on where things stand when it comes to managing the COVID-19 crisis.

Southern Inyo Hospital CEO, Peter Spiers, was one of the first people to speak. Spiers, who has been in the Eastern Sierra for about eight months, talked about how he believes the community has enough strength and resolve to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Spiers said, “I truly believe that by the grace of God, we have met this challenge with a resolve and commitment as a hospital. This is a unique place. From first day I was here, everyone was committed to making the hospital survive and thrive.”

Spiers also says the healthcare district has been taking a proactive approach since February to prepare for the pandemic. He went on to say, “We took aggressive measures starting in February, and made sure to screen all of our employees before they came to work.”

Chief Operating Officer of Toiyabe, Ethan Dexter, said that the health clinic is taking extra precautions when it comes to helping the public. Dexter remarked that all public health workers are sanitizing and wearing masks when doing wellness checks for patients.

Representing Northern Inyo Healthcare District during the discussion, was Dr. William Timbers, the newly appointed Interim Chief Medical Officer. Timbers gave a fifteen-minute PowerPoint presentation to attendees explaining the background of COVID-19 and told where things stand as far as the latest research on the virus.

After the healthcare officials finished speaking, Quilter turned the presentation over to local government officials from Inyo County and Bishop.

Bishop Mayor, Laura Smith, talked about the need for the city and the Eastern Sierra region to come together and embrace sacrifice for the greater good. Smith said, “City Council officials are elected by the people, and our hearts are with the people who are suffering. We need to band together as an Eastern Sierra community. That is how we are going to move past this problem.”

When it comes to sacrifices, Mayor Smith says the city will meet on April 13, 2020 to discuss what can be done to help the citizens of Bishop, even if it hurts the city fiscally. “There is going to be some sacrifice involved in order to combat this crisis. We are meeting as a city to see what sacrifices need to be made,” Smith remarked.

Chairman of the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, Matt Kingsley spoke after Mayor Smith, and commended the community for the job it has done helping those in need. The fifth district supervisor said, “I first wanted to recognize the efforts of our county staff, and the medical workers and volunteers around the community. Lunches are being served to kids and senior citizens, quilting clubs are making masks, and community activities are being organized like Easter Bunny drive-bys,”

Though pleased with the efforts of the community, Kingsley expressed displeasure with the fact that he can only provide a limited amount of help to his south county constituents during this pandemic. “My biggest frustration is not being able to communicate with my constituents. This is a great effort that we are doing in helping the community. But we have to realize that not all constituents have internet, so we have to find a way to help them.”

Inyo County Public Health Officer, Dr. James Richardson, was one of the panelists who had the most to say during the event.

To start things off, Richardson said, “As a public health officer, my goal is to protect the health of the citizens. Right now, the goal is to limit the impact of disease on local healthcare systems so they are not overwhelmed.”

Most of what Richardson discussed related to the importance of covering up with a cloth mask when going out in public, washing hands, and social distancing.

However, the Inyo County Public Health Officer stated that if an outbreak of coronavirus gets bad enough in the area, he will order the construction of alternative sites to help treat patients. “We are willing to develop alternative sites if needed along with increasing beds if things get bad.”

According to Dr. Richardson, there may be light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to life going back to some semblance of normal. “I have noticed recently in the latest predictive models, the estimation of deaths has gone down,” Richardson said. “I suspect in mid to late May, things will start lightening up. There may be an undercurrent of this virus in our community for a while though.”

LADWP Closing Recreation Areas in Eastern Sierra

BISHOP, CA (April 1, 2020) – In keeping with LADWP’s commitment to be good environmental stewards and promote the health and safety of the residents, visitors and employees in the Eastern Sierra, the following LADWP areas and/or locations are CLOSED to the public indefinitely in support of the Safer At Home Order: Owens River Gorge, including Control Gorge, Middle and Upper Gorge parking areas; and the parking areas at Happy and Sad Boulders.

LADWP will continue to monitor and assess the situation and announce further closures as necessary.

LADWP asks that everyone obey posted signs as trespassing is prohibited by law and encourages individuals to continue practicing social distancing and stay home to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

LADWP understands the public’s need to enjoy the benefits of nature during the COVID-19 pandemic. For people wishing to enjoy the outdoors, public health officials are advising people to walk, run, hike and bike in their local neighborhoods and maintain a social/physical distance of 6 feet or more.

We appreciate the public’s understanding and patience during these uncertain times. We will #PowerOnTogether.

Caltrans Replacing Signal Detection Cameras in Bishop

INYO COUNTY — On Monday, March 30th, Caltrans will begin work on the District 9 Signal Video Detection Camera upgrade project. The project, which is expected to take a week to complete, will remove and replace cameras at seven signalized intersections located in Bishop.

 

Cameras used in the video detection process are programmed to activate the traffic signal when a vehicle is present. These cameras do not take video or pictures of vehicles for any other purpose.

 

Work will take place from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am each day. Contractors plan on starting at the intersection of SR 168 and Fowler St. The construction schedule for this project is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and/or construction-related issues.

 

 

This $240,041 project was awarded to Cen-Pac Engineering of Oxnard, CA.

Coronavirus Causes Changes for Inyo Superior Court

Inyo Superior Court operations during COVID-19 pandemic
In furtherance of compliance with the California Department of Public Health and Center for Disease Control guidelines and recommendations, the Superior Court of California, County of Inyo, is taking precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of the community. These guidelines suggest that people maintain a six foot separation from others when in confined spaces.

Facility limitations at both courthouse facilities make conforming to these guidelines infeasible in most instances.

Therefore, effective Monday, March 23, the Superior Court of California, County of Inyo has taken the following steps to ensure public health and safety:

 All jury trials have been vacated and no jurors are currently ordered to appear;
 The court is open though the public counter is closed. People are encouraged to file their documents at the drop boxes located outside each court clerk office;
 Phone hours have been extended from 8:30-12:00 and 1:00-4:00. People with questions about non-traffic cases should call 760-872-6193. People calling about traffic related issues should call 760-872-3038 then 3 then 1 then 2;
 The Inyo Self Help office is open for assistance via phone and email only. To speak with the Self Help Center please call 760-872-6240;
 All non-emergency hearings are being continued. The court will notify parties of their new hearing dates;

The Superior Court of California, County of Inyo, recognizes that the current state of emergency is a rapidly evolving one. While these efforts effective today are steps to ensure public health and safety, changes may be made in the future as circumstances and additional information becomes available.

For questions – please contact 760-872-6193 or email info@inyocourt.ca.gov