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Northern Inyo Hospital is Running Low on COVID-19 Tests

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Will Timbers and Chief of Staff, Dr. Stacey Brown held a press conference Friday afternoon to discuss the current situation relating to the COVID-19 pandemic at Northern Inyo Healthcare District.

Nothing major has happened this week according to Dr. Brown, which is something he is relieved about. “I am super happy that we don’t have anything earth shattering to report on today, which shows that we are doing what we can to put a lid on this thing,” Brown remarked.

The discussion shifted toward antibody testing, which is being offered to essential workers throughout the community. “I think we are getting some traction finally on the testing front. I believe we will expand our net of antibody testing before these tests expire on the twenty-fifth of this month. Personally, I have signed off on eight to ten tests for my patients in the past few days. We will hear from our Director of Diagnostics, Larry Weber on how many tests have been administered by next Wednesday,” Brown said

Though antibody testing is available for many in the community, the same can not be said for the hospital’s supply of nasal swabs that detect active COVID-19 infection.

Northern Inyo Hospital has a short supply of PCR nasal swabs due to the rise in cases throughout the United States.

Dr. Timbers remarked that the supply chains are starting to waver, which has made it more difficult for the hospital to acquire testing kits. The Chief Medical Officer said, “We are down to twelve tests, so we will likely run out of them in the next few days. We will be receiving more of them in the next 5-7 days. The reason for a lack of tests goes back to the conversation at beginning of pandemic. We need to have systems in place, so when we do have a crisis situation we can respond accordingly.”

Inyo National Closes Group Camps Under Forest Order

The Inyo National Forest is extending the closure of all group campgrounds and two remote campgrounds under a forest order closure The closure can be terminated or extended depending in conditions.

Please see Exhibit A (in the link above) for a full list of campgrounds included in this order.

The decision is based upon recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and state and local health authorities.

Developed recreation group campsites on the Inyo National Forest typically draw large groups of people, creating mass gatherings and concentrated groups of forest visitors. This results in significant management oversight. especially during the high use conditions now being experienced.

Additionally, due to lack of personnel it is necessary to close two developed campgrounds, Grandview Campground and Kennedy Meadows Campground, located in remote areas of the Inyo National Forest. These facilities are located in areas that timely and routine cleaning cannot occur.

This closure is an interim measure. The Inyo National Forest will follow guidelines from the CDC, as well as state and local health departments, to ensure that the safety of our employees and our visitors is a priority.

Visitors are also urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with local health and safety guidance. For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.

Klondike Lake Open for Public Boating

From July 3 to September 7 (Labor Day), Klondike Lake will be open for limited public boating use on weekend days only: Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 9 a.m. to sunset. At this time spots are limited and on a first come, first served basis.

Precautions are being taken to guard against invasive mussels, so all motorized watercraft must be inspected before being launched into Klondike Lake. Due to COVID-19, face coverings and social distancing are required. We will take additional measures during boat inspections to protect boat owners and LADWP employees. Boat access to Klondike  is free this summer period  and subject to change for future seasons.

Access for motorized watercraft being transported by car, truck and/or trailer will be allowed for a one-hour period between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. at the gate entrance in order to accommodate inspections. After watercraft have been inspected and granted access, visitors can enjoy the lake for as long as they want that day, while practicing safe social distancing. Please note, recreational users with smaller, non-motorized watercraft that are not transported with a trailer can access the lake at any time.

 

Laws Museum Train Rides Postponed

Regretfully, all train rides in the Brill car, Old Smokey, and on the hand car, have been postponed until the state of California moves to Stage Four in the recovery stages. These very popular attractions at Laws Railroad Museum and Historical Site are not able at this time to meet safe distancing and other criteria under present recovery stages.

Presently, the Railroad Express rides, sponsored by the Bishop Chamber of Commerce, are still scheduled for Saturday December 12, and the Museum hopes that they can have train rides at that time.

The Inyo County Health Department is allowing the Museum to offer special Charter rides in the Brill car for single family groups with a maximum of ten people at one time. All participants will be required to wear face masks, practice safe distancing, and follow all the other guidelines for your safety during the ride. Charter rides are available at almost any time during Museum open hours, by advance reservation only. Please call the Museum at 760-873-5950 to make your reservations.

Eastern Sierra Foundation Increases Scholarship Funding for Student

The Eastern Sierra Foundation would like to congratulate the 76 Cerro Coso Community College 2020 graduates from Inyo and Mono Counties! While we are saddened that due to the pandemic an in-person graduation celebration is not possible this year, we are so impressed by the graduates’ perseverance, resilience, and strength in completing their certificates and degrees during these very challenging times. We know that the Class of 2020 will all go on to make positive contributions to our community and our world.

This year, Cerro Coso Community College’s Eastern Sierra College Center in Bishop and Mammoth graduated students in 26 different certificate and degree fields, including humanities, social sciences, math and sciences, studio arts, administration of justice, business, art history, English, human services, management, nursing, information technology, childhood development, medical assisting, and web development. Half of the graduates earned multiple degrees and/or certificates. Cerro Coso Community College will be hosting a virtual graduation on Saturday, June 13 at 6PM. For more information visit https://www.cerrocoso.edu/studentservices/commencement.

Each year, the Eastern Sierra Foundation offers full scholarships for any and all Inyo County residents who enroll in 12 units per semester on the Bishop Campus. The scholarship covers all enrollment fees. Additionally, in response to economic challenges resulting from the pandemic, the Eastern Sierra Foundation will now also cover up to $500 per semester for books. Scholarship applications and information are available online https://www.cerrocoso.edu/studentservices/financial-aid/eastern-sierra-foundation-scholarship. Due to the uncertainty about whether four-year colleges will offer in-seat courses in the fall, and to support local students who may be changing college plans, the Eastern Sierra Foundation has extended the scholarship deadline for the Fall 2020 semester to Tuesday, June 30 at 5PM.

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.

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.

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.

Bishop Union High School Prepares for Unorthodox Graduation

The 111 graduates from Bishop Union High School will get the chance to receive their diplomas from BUHS Administration over the course of three days next week. Though there won’t be a traditional ceremony in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, students will get the chance to drive to the high school’s parking lot with their family members and receive their diplomas.

This makeshift ceremony will be taking place starting May 26, 2020, until May 28, 2020. A maximum of four family members will be allowed to accompany the graduating seniors.

Graduating seniors will be assigned a specific time to pick up their graduation certificates on one of the three aforementioned dates. There is no specific time relating to when the celebration will start each day, but it will be some time during the evening.

During the three day ceremony, students will be filmed receiving their high school diplomas. After all of the footage is compiled, the high school will post it online for the general public to view on June 5th, 2020.