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Ninth Case of Coronavirus in Inyo County Confirmed

INYO COUNTY, April 1, 2020 – Inyo County’s Public Health Officer, Dr. James Richardson, received notification this morning from Northern Inyo Healthcare District regarding a positive COVID-19 test for an Inyo County resident. This is the ninth positive COVID-19 case in Inyo County. The patient presented to Northern Inyo Healthcare District’s Rural Health Clinic with symptoms associated with COVID-19, and was tested for COVID-19 based on symptoms and other risk-factors.

 

Inyo County Public Health is working to determine the source of the infection, and conducting a thorough investigation to identify potential exposures and notify contacts. At this time the patient is currently isolated at home. As of March 31, Inyo County has 19 tests pending and 63 negative cases. Due to the volume of tests being analyzed currently in California, the turnaround time can take several days.

 

The public must continue to practice preventative measures, such as avoiding contact with sick individuals, wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, practicing social distancing, and adherence to State and County Orders. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, coughing or shortness of breath, and think you may have had contact with a person with COVID-19, call your health care provider before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.

 

Please familiarize yourself with Inyo County’s Public Health Orders and CA Executive Order: https://www.inyocounty.us/covid-19/orders-directives

·        Prohibition Of Certain Short-Term Rentals

·        Businesses Operating During COVID-19

·        Self-Isolation & Self Quarantine Order

·        Temporary Prohibition Of Non-Essential Public Gatherings

·        CA Stay At Home Executive Order

 

The County of Inyo, Northern Inyo Healthcare District, and Unified Command partners are committed to keeping Inyo County residents up to date with the most accurate information. You are encouraged to visit https://www.inyocounty.us/covid-19  for the most recent press releases and community updates. You can also register your email so you receive all Inyo County COVID-19 information by clicking either Situation Update or Press Releases from the left-side menu.

Northern Inyo Hospital Preparing for ‘Surge’ of COVID-19 Cases

Northern Inyo Hospital gave its weekly COVID-19 update on Monday afternoon, March 30, 2020, with Dr. Stacey Brown taking the lead in updating the media.

“We have eight total positive cases of COVID-19 in the county. Six of the eight cases were confirmed at NIHD, while Toiyabe confirmed the other two. In addition, thirteen of the eighty-one total tests administered are pending,” Brown told members of the media.

There is good news for Inyo County when it comes to testing. The Rural Health Clinic Director said the hospital is receiving coronavirus testing results from a LabCorp facility based in Phoenix, which will greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to determine if a patient has the virus. On average, test results will be available in 2-3 days. Up until recently, NIHD had to send their samples to a testing location in North Carolina, which took about seven days on average for the hospital to receive the results.

Brown also added that testing is expected to get even faster in the coming weeks when the FDA approves use of a high-tech machine called the “Cepheid Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV2 test.”

The RHC director spoke about the new machine saying, “The hospital is still waiting for approval for our in-house COVID testing machine that will be able to do tests in an hour. Approval for testing should happen by around mid-April.”

This does not mean that testing will be available for the general public. Brown says the new testing system will target essential workers first, then vulnerable populations second. “We are going to follow a priority scheme, so the testing for the general public is going to be reduced.  If it looks and smells like COVID, it is probably COVID, so we are not going to use those tests on general public. We are saving the tests for healthcare workers, first responders, and critically ill patients. They are priority number one. Next would be high risk individuals like people with underlying medical conditions and older people.”

Antibody testing is expected to be readily available across the country soon as well. This type of testing will be used to see if those who have already had COVID-19 have built up an immunity to the virus.

Inyo County already has its fair share of coronavirus cases, but Brown expects a surge of cases to happen in the near future. With that being said, Dr. Brown says the hospital is doing everything it can to prepare.  “We are looking at a surge plan for when things get much busier. Right now, though, we are working well within our capacity as a hospital.”

Though there is an expectation from local medical professionals that there will be a vast increase in cases, Dr. Will Timbers, who works in the hospital’s Emergency Room, says the general public is doing a nice job of staying home. This is lessening the amount of viral cases, and also preventing other acute injuries not related to coronavirus. “There are two things that I think should be said,” Timbers remarked. “I think the community at large should be commended for staying home. We have seen a drop in acute injuries also, because people are not going out and instead electing to stay home.”

Mule Days Release Statement About COVID-19 Crisis

In 1970, Bishop Mule Days Celebration rose from humble beginnings to bring a world-class mule show to the Eastern Sierra. We have become the premier mule show in North America. Our annual event brings visitors from all walks of life: RV enthusiasts, campers, equine enthusiasts, contestants, celebrities, fans and friends. Mule Days has endured through recessions, high fuel prices, devastating equine diseases and the loss of many dedicated, dear friends and volunteers. Our all-volunteer Board has continued to promote the legacy of our founders: “Anything a horse can do, a mule can do better.” And, we have continued to promote and enhance the local community and tourism-dependent economy. Mule Days has become a vital part of our local economy by bringing packed hotels and campgrounds during a time that had previously been slow, foot-traffic and visitors raising revenues in our local businesses and government. Mule Days is estimated to bring multi-millions of dollars in direct spending to the Bishop area. For a tourist-driven economy, this equates to $7 million in economic value for every $1 million spent. Our humble show is honored and proud to be such a vital part of our local economy.While Mule Days has succeeded, Tri-County Fairgrounds has been struggling. The State has cut much of the funding for county fairs leaving them struggling to remain open. Unfortunately, this has resulted in many fairs closing. Mule Days has long been a partner of Tri-County Fairgrounds providing much needed capital improvements, sponsorships and assisting with repairs. Mule Days is the single largest financial contributor to the Fairgrounds. Mule Days provides labor and facilities for hosting the State High School Rodeo Finals and the Tri-County Fair. Despite our partnership and the fair hosting events generating much needed income and city and county TOT funds, the fairgrounds is struggling. The reality is, Mule Days cannot exist without Tri-County Fairgrounds and Tri-County Fairgrounds cannot exist without Mule Days. The economic and social benefit of Mule Days and Tri-County Fairgrounds cannot be replaced and should not be ignored. Mule Days is primarily a volunteer-run event; but, we do have a few employees who rely on the success of our event for their income and benefits. Mule Days is a private, not-for-profit entity and may not be eligible for the stimulus programs related to this pandemic. While we recognize the economic and social benefits of our event, we are cognizant of the impact such an event can have on the health and welfare of the citizens of our small community. Mule Days has been contacted by many contestants, participants and fans. We have heard your concerns and agree the well-being of our community is paramount. To that end, Mule Days is giving the local, state and federal government time to address this pandemic. We will continue to do our part to produce a quality event while it is our hope, solutions will be forthcoming and we can ultimately move forward.In the meantime, Mule Days continues to monitor the situation. We realize the decision to continue with our 51st event may be taken out of our hands. If such a decision is made, we will do our mule-minded best to save Mule Days and the fairgrounds for the future. We want to assure our competitors, fans, campers, RVers, ticket holders and volunteers we have a policy in place to ensure refunds will be made fairly and appropriately. We have also developed a procedure whereby reservations and payments are fully credited to our event in 2021 – our “pay-it-forward” option.

Mule Days wishes to thank our community, fans, competitors, volunteers and attendees for your patience and understanding while we work through this unprecedented time of uncertainty. Your dedication to our beautiful American mule is our strength.

-Mule Days Board of Directors

City of Bishop Appoints New City Administrator

After conducting a comprehensive recruitment facilitated by an executive search firm, the Bishop City Council voted unanimously to appoint Ron Phillips as its next City Administrator at the City Council meeting on January 13, 2020.

The recruitment process yielded 14 applicants, which were put through a rigorous screening. The field was eventually reduced to 4 highly qualified candidates for final interviews. Candidates interviewed before two panels comprised of staff and the City Council.

Mr. Phillips holds a Master’s degree in Regional and City Planning and has a diverse career as a City Manager, Planning Director, Engineering General Manager, Transportation Planner and Past President of the Colorado Municipal League. Ron attended the Program for Senior Executives in State & Local Government as a Gates Foundation Fellow in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Ron has served as Town Manager in Vail, Colorado, Transportation Services Director for Fort Collins, Colorado, principal in his own consulting firm, and most recently as General Manager for six water utility special districts in Wasatch County, Utah.

The Bishop City Council welcomes Mr. Phillips to the City! He is expected to start on February 1st, and we are excited to have him join the City team.

County to Discuss Indian Wells Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) at its regular meeting Tuesday, January 14. Specifically, the Board will receive a presentation by staff and an update from Supervisor Kingsley, Inyo
County’s representative on the IWVGA. The GSP is scheduled for consideration by the IWVGA on Thursday, January 16, 2020. One of the components of the GSP is inclusion of a project seeking to import water into the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin via the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Inyo County is one of five members of the IWVGA, which also includes Kern and San Bernardino counties, the City of Ridgecrest, and the Indian Wells Valley Water District. The joint powers authority was created for the purpose of implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) within the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin, which the state determined is in “critical overdraft” due to decades of over- pumping. SGMA is requiring development of a GSP as part of the mandate to halt the overdraft and bring the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin into balanced levels of pumping and recharge by 2040. The GSP is
due this month.

“Although Inyo County’s constituency is a relatively small portion of the groundwater users in that basin (i.e., Pearsonville), Inyo County has outsized concerns regarding the future of the basin’s water use due to the intention of our fellow JPA members to import water into the basin via the LADWP Aqueduct,” said Assistant County Counsel John-Carl Vallejo, who serves as Inyo County’s alternate on the IWVGA board.

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors hear the update Tuesday shortly after reconvening from closed session at 10 a.m.

The meeting will be held in the Board of Supervisors Chambers, County Administrative Center, 224 N. Edwards St., Independence.

Manzanar hosts Citizenship Ceremony

Manzanar Historic Site hosts Naturalization Ceremony

May 25, 2016
by Allie Wilder

Today a Naturalization Ceremony took place at Manzanar National Historic Site in observance of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The ceremony was part of a partnership between U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the National Park Service to host 100 Naturalization Ceremonies in 100 National Parks and Monuments to celebrate the National Park Service’s Centennial.

Keynote speaker Honorable Paul M. Igasaki congratulated the 14 local new citizens saying that they “Have altered the American Story today by becoming part of it”.

Both Igasaki and longtime Manzanar volunteer, 2016 National Park Service enduring service award winner and former internee Saburo Sasaki noted that until 1952 only those of European ancestry were eligible for naturalization. Sasaki urged the new citizens to exercise their new rights as the privilege of becoming American citizens has not always been available to everyone.

Bernadette Johnson, superintendent of Manzanar National Historic Site noted that the story of Manzanar is “A story of the fragility of our constitutional rights” and that she hopes that this can become an annual event.

In her closing remarks Monica E. Toro from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stated that making this an annual event will be their pleasure. The ceremony concluded with Voter Registration for the new citizens and a tour of Manzanar National Historic Site led by Saburo Sasaki.

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The 14 new citizens taking their Oath of Allegiance. Photo by Allie Wilder
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LADWP awards $217 Million Contract for Owens Lake Work

LADWP Awards Big Money for Dry Lake Dust Controls

submitted by the LADWP

LADWP Awards $200+ million Construction Contract to OHL USA for Owens Lake Phase 9/10 Project

Employment Opportunities May Be Available for Owens Valley Residents

Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has awarded the contract for construction of Phase 9/10 of Owens Lake’s dust mitigation effort to OHL USA. The contract with OHL USA is not to exceed $238,973,689, which includes a 10 percent contingency amount of $21,724,881. OHL USA was awarded the contract with a bid amount of $217,248,808.

The Phase 9/10 project is designed to mitigate dust emissions on an additional 3.62 square miles of Owens Lake playa. By the completion of this project, the City of Los Angeles will have mitigated dust emissions from over 48 square miles of Owens Lake playa and LADWP will have reduced PM10 dust emissions from the lakebed by 99 percent. The effort is scheduled to be completed by December 31, 2017. Upon completion of Phase 9/10, the City of Los Angeles’ overall investment in the Owens Lake Dust Mitigation Program will reach nearly $2 billion.

OHL USA will be hiring union trades, clerical and office staff positions for the Phase 9/10 Project. To apply to work on Phase 9/10, please contact Ezam Khazeni of OHL California at 949-242-4432, or email your resume to ekhazeni@ohlusa.com.

OHL USA’s West Coast office is staffed by experts in heavy civil construction who have decades of experience working in the region. Their expertise and capabilities are supported by the financial strength and technical resources of OHL’s global practice, which includes more than a century of successful construction around the world.

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Independence Holiday Boutique and Craft Show

Independence Holiday Boutique and Craft Show

Get into the spirit of the season on Friday November 20 by enjoying a day of fun, food & holiday shopping in beautiful and historic Independence.

The very popular Independence Holiday Boutique and Craft show kicks off the day with over 20 talented craft persons displaying their handiwork for sale at the American Legion Hall beginning at 7:45 a.m. Shoppers will find a huge selection of beautiful and one-of-a-kind hand-made items including jewelry, pottery, aprons, baskets, baked goods and much more. You’ll be sure to find just the right item for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

The show will also feature hot breakfast from 7:45 to 10 and a delicious lunch including hand-crafted soups, chili and more starting at 11. The Boutique and Craft show will be open 7:45 a.m. until 2.
Also on November 20th, the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery adds to the Independence festivities with their annual Holiday sale from 10 a.m. until 3. Come in and check out their great selection of Christmas gift ideas and Christmas decorations as well. And after shopping…enjoy a free self-guided tour of the historic Fish Hatchery, a true Owens Valley treasure.

Holiday shopping, delicious food and genuine small town charm…you’ll find all that and much more on Friday November 20th. Make a day of it and take the trip to historic Independence for a fun filled day of holiday cheer and geniality. For more information call Gayle at 760 920-2132.

cover photo, 2014 Independence Boutique and Craft Show

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Irrigation water to flow

LADWP TO SUPPLY WATER FOR DURATION OF IRRIGATION SEASON

Statement from the LADWP:

Bishop, CA — The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is committing to continue irrigating city-owned lands through the duration of irrigation season thanks to water reductions on Owens Lake obtained through the granting of a variance by Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (Great Basin).

“We are encouraged by the collaboration from our partners at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Lands Commission,” Manager of Los Angeles Aqueduct James Yannotta said. “Through the State Agencies’ approval of the variance, LADWP now has the necessary water for irrigating leased City lands in the Owens Valley through September 30.”

The variance granted by the Great Basin Hearing Board in July enables LADWP to initiate a late ramp-up of shallow flooding on Owens Lake. This allows for a water savings of approximately 4,200 acre-feet this fall, which in turn will in turn provide sufficient water for the remainder of irrigation season.

LADWP previously committed to irrigating city-owned lands through August. Irrigation season will end on September 30, 2015.

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NIH goes Green and gets the green light on patient improvement plan

NIH Green Committee diverts 23.2 tons from local landfill

They drive past every day — trucks pulling 53-foot hay trailers headed up and down U.S. 395. The next one that passes by, take a long, hard look at the trailer and picture it loaded with recyclables like paper, plastics and bottles. That trailer is equal to the amount of recycling diverted from the local landfill in just three months thanks to Northern Inyo Hospital’s Green Committee.
Established last year by hospital administrator Victoria Alexander-Lane and a group of ecologically-minded employees eager to cut waste, The NIH Green Committee partnered with The Sierra Conservation Project and Preferred Disposal to do as much recycling as possible. None of the committee members knew what that would mean in the long run; they just knew it was the right thing to do.
An exact answer came at the end of June, and the results were huge.
In the first quarter of the effort, April through June of this year, the hospital recycled: 22,680 lbs of mixed paper; 1,210 lbs of plastics; 302 lbs of aluminum; 6,048 lbs of glass, and; an estimated 16,164 lbs of cardboard. The grand total adds up to 46,404 lbs, or roughly 23.2 tons.
That’s right 23.2 tons. It is projected that within a year, NIH will have recycled 92.808 tons of materials.
Environmental Services Manager Richard Miears presented this information to the NIH Board of Directors during its July meeting. Miears, who has a background in trucking, was the person who realized the visual of a hay truck. He estimated that 650 bales of hay at 65 lbs each equaled 42,250 lbs — 4,000 lbs less than what NIH recycled.
“It’s a good start,” Miears said, “but we want to take this from good to great. We have plans in place to explore other areas where we can reduce waste.”
For example, the NIH Green Committee began recycling coffee grounds to the Bishop High School Future Farmers of America’s composting program. The committee is working with NIH’s Maintenance Department to explore the use of LED lighting within the hospital. Miears said if the hospital switched over completely, NIH could save up to $200,000 per year in electrical costs. Not bad, considering the hospital’s current power bill is an estimated $480,000 a year.
“The success of this program rests in small efforts as well as the larger projects,” Miears said. “Every little bit helps. Every project counts.”
So when the NIH Information Technology agreed to be the first department to use recycled paper, the Green Committee was delighted. An even bigger effort is the recycling of blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximeter probes. “If the deal works out with the medically-certified recycling company we are working with, it could save the hospital $15,000 a year, and one year will pay for two-and-a-half years of our local recycling program. If that isn’t a win-win situation, then I don’t know what is,” Miears said.
Miears would especially like to thank the hospital’s Environmental Services and Dietary staffs and all the hospital employees who have participated in the recycling effort. “It’s really a team effort,” he said.
The NIH Green Committee consists of NIH employees Julie Anderson, Greg Bissonette, Andrea Daniels, Layne Durocher, Mark Gavriel, Brandi Jernigan, Karen Taketomo, Lynn Lippincott, Neil Lynch, Richard Miears, Shauna Murray, Devin Riley, Amy Stange and Cheryl Underhill.

State gives green light to NIH patient care improvements

Surveyors from the California Department of Public Health visited Northern Inyo Hospital (NIH) for a licensing survey on July 21-22. The hospital can now provide the following improvements for its patients.
Swing Bed increase
The state granted NIH five additional Swing Beds, bringing its available total to 10. Medicare allows certain small rural hospitals to use its beds as needed, either for acute care or skilled care. This allows physicians to “swing” patients from one level of care to another while staying within the same bed and same facility.
A good example of a Swing Bed stay is when someone undergoes joint replacement surgery. A Swing Bed allows patients to recover in a hospital setting versus a nursing home. In the hospital, patients have easy access to nursing care and rehabilitative services including physical, occupational and speech therapy. The goal of Swing Bed programs is to help patients becoming as independent as possible before discharge.
Swing Beds also allow patients to stay closer to family and friends, reducing stress from possibly being placed outside the community and eliminating high transportation costs. It also provides the patient with continuity of care since they will be working with the same nurses and therapists they had during their surgery or illness.
RHC Exam Rooms added, Women’s Health added
The Rural Health Clinic’s (RHC) Family Practice now has three additional exam rooms. The additional exam rooms are expected to ease patient flow and should reduce patient wait times at the RHC, which experiences about 24,000 patient visits per year.
In addition, women’s health care services are now part of the RHC, housed in the adjacent building connected by a ramp/walkway. These services will include obstetrical care, well women exams and minor gynecological procedures. RHC Family Practice will continue to provide family practice/primary care, preventive care, chronic disease management and acute illness care.
Patients making appointments should call (760) 873-2602 for women’s health or (760) 873-2849 for family practice.
Infusion Center to relocate
The new NIH Infusion Center will now occupy a much larger space within the older main hospital off Pioneer Lane.
What makes the new space unique is that it offers five individual exam rooms, enhancing privacy for patients. NIH nursing staff is working to make the new location a warmer, more welcoming place for patients to undergo treatment. The Infusion Center is expected to begin operations by early Fall.
Infusion Therapy is the intravenous administration of medication and is most often used when oral medications will not work. For many people chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer is the most familiar type of Infusion Therapy. Other types include intravenous antibiotics and therapeutic infusions such as iron replacement and infusions for bone health.
Northern Inyo Hospital is a 25-bed, not-for-profit Critical Access Hospital located in Bishop. Accredited by The Joint Commission, NIH has been providing health care to the Eastern Sierra since 1946.

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