New COVID-19 Cases Stop Mono County From Moving Into Stage Two of Reopening

Mono County recorded 6 new COVID-19 cases during the week ending May 10. This number of new cases, unfortunately, prevents Mono County from moving fully into Stage 2 of the “California Stay At Home Order Except for Essential Activities Roadmap” at this time.

Over the past 14-days, Mono County has identified a total of 8 new COVID-19 cases. Our population is around 14,000 people and the State’s recommended limit for transitioning completely into Stage 2 is one new case per 10,000 people over a 14-day period. Mono County is now significantly above this limit.

As of Friday May 8, under State rules, most retailers in California can offer curbside pick-up service and the same is true in Mono County. When we move completely into Stage 2, retailers will be allowed to have customers in their stores, restaurants can serve meals on the premises, and other business activities that are deemed “lower risk” can re-open. However, we are not there yet according to the State guidelines on new case rates.

Mono County Health Officer Dr. Tom Boo stated that he “is concerned about the number of new cases and complete investigation is essential. Methodical contact tracing procedures have identified links between these new cases who are all residents of the Mammoth Area: regions defined within Mammoth Lakes and Crowley Lake.”

Dr. Boo further stated that, “The first case this week was identified by new screening procedures recently implemented at Mammoth Hospital and contact tracing led to the identification of the other 5 infected persons. None of the new cases have sought medical care related to COVID-19, and at least three report no symptoms at all. Testing was performed because they live or work with other confirmed cases and all are self-quarantined.”

Public Health Officials state that none of these cases would have been identified earlier in the pandemic because of testing limitations. The hospital can now test more people with results in less than an hour, giving the Health Department a critical tool in efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus throughout Mono County. With increased testing, more cases are predicted to be identified in the future.

Currently all patients admitted overnight to Mammoth or Northern Inyo Hospitals for any reason are being tested for COVID-19. In addition, as our local hospitals resume more elective healthcare services, many patients coming in for scheduled tests or procedures are also being screened for COVID-19.

Mammoth Hospital has not admitted people for COVID-19 since our alarming cluster of severe illness in March. Diagnostic capacity in Mono County remains adequate to test anyone who is sick as well as those who are identified by Public Health as having been exposed to positive cases. We do not yet have the capacity to implement widespread community-based testing, which is an objective we will continue to work towards.

Public Health Officials continue to learn more about the novel coronavirus every day. In recent weeks we have learned more about the range of effects and complications as well as containment efforts as countries struggle to sustain their initial successes in containing the virus. Recent clinical findings include: damage to heart and kidneys, increased frequency of blood clots in sicker people, and the potential for severe complications and even some deaths in children.

In summary, we ask the public to keep in mind that the virus remains active here in our county and more infections will occur as movement, business, and social activity increase. We hope that with continued distancing and widespread individual commitment to reduce risk by getting tested, staying home when ill, as well as wearing face coverings in public places, that we as a state and county will be able to gradually move toward a sustainable way of living with the pandemic without sacrificing many lives.

Public Health Officials urge residents to stay at home except for essential purposes and to call 211 if they are feeling ill and would like to talk with a nurse 7-days a week from 8:00am – 5:00pm.