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Bishop Chamber of Commerce Offering Grants for Small Businesses

The Bishop Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce a new grant program to benefit small businesses in Bishop that have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to a generous private donor, an emergency fund has been established with $20,000 available to provide immediate financial assistance.

All businesses with a physical location inside Bishop City limits are eligible to apply online at www.bishopchamberofcommerce.com. All applications will be reviewed and scored by a committee utilizing a two-stage process to ensure equality and fairness.

It is important to note that unlike the SBA programs, this is not a first-come, first-served application process. Applications will open on May 6th and close on May 17th , 2020. All applications will be reviewed after the close date and funds will be awarded by the end of this month.

“We know $20,000 won’t be able to help everyone; however, we are very grateful to the private donor that allowed us to establish this program,” states Tawni Thomson, Executive Director of the Bishop Chamber of Commerce. “If there are individuals or businesses that would like to contribute to grow the fund, donations in any amount would be welcome.”

Questions regarding the application or additional contributions should be directed to the Bishop Chamber of Commerce via email – execdir@bishopvisitor.com.

Bishop Protesters Express Discontent With Stay Home Order

The “Reopen Bishop” protest took place on Friday, May 1, 2020, at noon at the Bishop City Park.

There were about forty people who showed up to the protest. Demonstrators held signs up demanding that businesses open in order to help the local economy. Many of the people who did not hold signs, held American Flags instead. One individual held a red, white, and blue flag, which read, “Open.”

After about a half hour, protesters marched southward down Main Street. Many cars driving by honked in support of the objectors, who are opposing the state’s stay-at-home order.

A majority the protesters were not wearing masks, which public health officials throughout the world have been advising the public to wear in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. Many of those in attendance were not practicing the recommended physical distancing advice either, which requires individuals to stand at least six feet apart from each other.

There are currently nineteen confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Inyo County.

Inyo National Forest Provides Updates on Recreation Closures

On March 25, 2020, Regional Forester Randy Moore issued a Closure Order for all developed recreation sites across all National Forests in the Region.  This closure order is likely to be in place through early May.  Additional details will follow later this week.

The USDA Forest Service’s highest priority is ensuring our employees and visitors remain safe as we support mission critical functions for the people and communities we serve.

This closure excludes trails and trailheads. However, the Inyo National Forest has cancelled the issuance of Wilderness permits, including Mt. Whitney day and overnight permits, through May 15. Typically, the Wilderness quota system begins for the forest on May 1 and reservations for permits are issued via recreation.gov. Inyo County has advised that people do not engage in high risk activities. Mt. Whitney, especially this time of year, is an area where rescues and recoveries are common. People who have been awarded a permit reservation for Mt. Whitney or any other trailhead on the Inyo National Forest will receive a notice from recreation.gov that notifies them that their reservation has been cancelled and a refund have been issued.

While trails remain open for day use, we recommend complying with local and state guidance and not traveling for your recreation needs.

If you do plan on visiting the Inyo National Forest, please be aware that:

  • No trash removal is currently offered – please pack out all trash and waste
  • All toilet facilities are currently closed – please plan accordingly
  • Avoid high-risk activities – law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited
  • If an area is crowded, please search for a less occupied location

All Inyo National Forest campgrounds are closed. This includes Kennedy Meadows, Lone Pine, Mt. Whitney Trailhead, Lower Grays Meadow, Grandview, Sage Flat, Bitterbrush, Big Trees, Four Jeffrey, Forks, Intake 2, Holiday, Tuff, and French Camp, Convict Lake, New Shady Rest, Old Shady Rest, and Sherwin Creek, Oh Ridge, June Lake, Gull Lake, Aerie Crag, and Lower Lee Vining. The remaining campgrounds in the Bishop Creek drainage, Rock Creek drainage, Lakes Basin, Reds Meadow Valley, June Lake Loop, Lee Vining Canyon, and along Hwy 395 between Mammoth Lakes and Lee Vining are typically closed for winter conditions this time of year.

As a reminder, many roads that access these areas may also be closed for winter conditions.

All visitor centers are closed. This includes the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center in Lone Pine, the White Mountain Ranger Station, the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center, and the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center in Lee Vining. The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center is closed for the winter.

All picnic areas are closed. South Tufa (Mono Lake), Convict Lake, Hot Creek, and June Beach Day Use areas are closed. All campground restrooms, trailhead restrooms, picnic area, and day use restrooms are closed.

Customers needing information may call during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:00 am- 4:30 pm, closed for lunch 12:00 pm -12:30 pm). Please be patient since call volume is significant.

  • Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center:760-924-5500
  • White Mountain Ranger Station and Bishop Supervisor’s Office: 760-873-2400
  • Eastern Sierra Visitor Center, Lone Pine: 760-876-6200 

Closing any site for any reason is not one we take lightly, but protecting our visitors and employees remains our highest priority. We are working with our state and local partners to determine the best path forward to safely reopening closed sites.

 

Northern Inyo Hospital Opening Services for Non-Coronavirus Patients

Interim Chief Medical Officer of Northern Inyo Healthcare District, Dr. Will Timbers, provided the latest update on how the hospital is faring in its fight against the coronavirus.

Timbers says the hospital is opening up limited operations this week in order to assist people who need other health concerns addressed which are unrelated to COVID-19. “Starting today, we are shifting the hospital toward limited operations. We will be providing many of the services we provided before the pandemic hit, just with some alterations such as implementing things like social distancing and providing telehealth visits when possible,” Timbers said.

Some of these services include surgeries, doctor checkups, and other hospital examinations.

Over the past month and a half, the hospital has modified nearly all of its operations to combat COVID-19. Because of these alterations, the hospital has had a large decrease in hospital admissions, which has taken its toll on the district’s income. Dr. Timbers spoke more about the lack of revenue saying, “I can tell you it has had big impact on the district’s finances. We have cash on hand currently and we are looking at how long we can sustain operations with that.”

Timbers also said the hospital is seeking assistance from the government. “The federal government appears to be working on a bill that will help critical access hospitals. If we don’t get help from the new bill, our grant department has also been busy trying to acquire funding,” the Interim Chief Medical Officer added.

Herd immunity from coronavirus could play a factor in curtailing the amount of new infections in the coming months. However, Dr. Timbers appears to be cautious when it comes to the notion that once people have coronavirus, they cannot get it again. Timbers said, “Making blanket statements about herd immunity this early is a bit immature. There are still some unanswered questions. We don’t know about whether or not COVID mutates and changes every year like the seasonal flu. If that is the case, herd immunity is not going to be very effective. My hope is for a vaccination from COVID-19 to happen sooner rather than later. That is going to be our best chance of stamping this out.”

Though a vaccination is not going to happen in the immediate future, social distancing and other preventative measures have made a difference in limiting the amount of new cases of COVID-19. Timbers emphasized that the community is doing an excellent job when it comes to “flattening the curve.”

“I wanted to say thanks to entire community for their participation in this effort. If they weren’t covering up and social distancing, we would be in a different place right now,” Timbers expressed.

Northern Inyo Hospital Not Panicking After Five New COVID-19 Cases

Northern Inyo Hospital held a press conference on Thursday, April 16, 2020, in response to the five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county. All cases were confirmed at the hospital, bringing the total amount of victims to seventeen.

Dr. Stacey Brown could not comment on whether or not the cases were all connected, but did say that each patient’s tests were confirmed to be in the same batch of testing kits that were sent to LabCorp in Phoenix, Arizona. “Those five positive cases were in a batch of twelve people that we tested last weekend,” Brown said.

The Rural Health Clinic Director added that he is not overly alarmed by the five cases. It is more likely that the test results were confirmed at the same time and less likely that every person tested came down with the virus at the same time. Brown said, “The new confirmed cases is not diagnostic of a surge, but more of a testing glut. Usually five to eight tests per day is what we send out for lab analysis. With just one data point to look at and five tests confirmed, I can’t say we are in a surge.”

Turnaround time for testing results will be faster than the usual two days it takes to receive coronavirus testing outcomes. The in-house testing has been approved for the hospital to use, which will allow for patients to find out whether or not  they have the virus in approximately an hour. “As of today, we have in-house testing via nasal swab available,” Brown remarked.

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Will Timbers, added that the healthcare district has also implemented antibody testing, which will let patients know whether or not they have built up immunity to COVID-19. “Antibody testing in-house is available as well. However, we are not entirely sure how accurate it is right now,” Timbers said.

California Governor, Gavin Newsom recently said in a press conference that in order to lessen up on societal restrictions and go back to some semblance of normal life, he would need to see a decrease in hospitalizations and ICU admissions. The governor outlined “the six critical indicatiors” the state would need to see in order to consider modifying the Stay-at-Home guidelines.

When asked whether or not there has been an increase or decrease in hospitalizations locally, Dr. Timbers said there has been a moderate increase of admissions to the hospital, but not enough to warrant alarm. “Volumes have been up marginally, but nothing that is coming at all close to taxing our resources,” Timbers expressed.

It has been well documented that the majority of cases of COVID-19 are considered by the medical community to be mild, with eighty-one percent of patients reporting mild symptoms. However, just because it is deemed to be a mild case, does not mean that many of the individuals who come down with the sickness do not experience tremendous pain and discomfort.

Timbers also spoke about the misconception that many people have when it comes to what the word “mild” means relating to coronavirus. “Mild, severe,  and critical are used to classify illness in the medical community. Eighty-one percent of people who have COVID-19 are determined to be a mild case based on if they have mild viral pneumonia or no pneumonia. Mild cases in the medical community is not what the majority of the public would perceive as a mild,” Timbers remarked.

Local Conservation Groups Efforts to Protect Sage Grouse is Making a Difference

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) announced it is withdrawing a 2013 proposed rule to list the Bi-State sage-grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

USFWS made this decision after an “extended and comprehensive analysis of the best available science.” They concluded that local conservation actions have and will continue to successfully reduce threats to the Bi-State sage-grouse.

This is good news for all the Eastside conservation professionals and community members who have unified to form what’s called the Bi-State Local Area Working Group (“LAWG”), a group of diverse stakeholders dedicated to bringing the power of local land protection to care for the Bi-State sage-grouse. The LAWG is made up of state and local officials, public and tribal land managers, ranchers, private landowners, scientists, and conservationists like the Bishop-based nonprofit organization Eastern Sierra Land Trust.

Sometimes, like in the cases of the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker or the California Condor, the Endangered Species Act serves as a very effective tool for the recovery of a species. In the case of the Bi-State sage-grouse, our uniquely local and collaborative approach is working without the need for the Endangered Species Act. The committed Bi-State partners have seen success in the targeted and specific actions they’ve taken to enhance our local sagebrush ecosystem. They’ve cared for the needs of our local environment using individualized and flexible efforts.

The efforts of LAWG have not only worked, but are also being heralded across the nation as an exceptionally successful model for local, collaborative, science-based conservation. And after such a comprehensive analysis by the USFWS, we can rest assured that we’re on the right track to protecting the many unique species that make their homes in the sagebrush, like sage-grouse.

Bi-State sage-grouse are a unique population of Greater sage-grouse that live in the Eastern Sierra and western Nevada. The birds are known for the males’ flamboyant springtime mating displays on traditional dancing grounds, known as leks. This species is a key indicator species for the health of other wildlife and for sagebrush areas generally. This means that if the Bi-State sage-grouse are thriving, there’s a higher likelihood that other species of plants and animals are thriving too.

In addition to the Bi-State sage-grouse, mule deer, pronghorn, songbirds, lizards, pygmy rabbits, and more depend on wide sagebrush areas for homes and food. It’s great to have some hopeful news right now, as our world navigates the current COVID-19 pandemic. Once it is safe to do so, local organizations like Eastern Sierra Land Trust look forward to inviting community members back onto the land

to work side by side with them and agency partners to care for sagebrush ecosystems. Future sage-grouse workdays are planned for this autumn, and the safe participation and support of our community members make a positive difference for our iconic Eastern Sierra land and wildlife.

Death Valley Authorities Searching For Vandals

DEATH VALLEY, CA –Death Valley National Park Rangers are investigating repeated incidents of vandalism over the past two years and seek the public’s assistance in identifying a suspect.

Early this year, rock faces, buildings, and other infrastructure were vandalized with graffiti that reads in part “Steve & Lacy.” Similar acts of vandalism occurred during the federal government shutdown in early 2019, possibly by the same person. This individual is suspected to be a male from Grand Forks, British Columbia who traveled with a dog named Lacy on his way to an event called King of the Hammers.

Park Rangers are seeking any information that could aid this investigation. Tips can be submitted anonymously to the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch (ISB). Their tip line can be reached via call or text at: 888-653-0009; online at www.nps.gov/ISB and click “Submit a Tip,” or emailed to nps_isb@nps.gov.

Graffiti and other forms of damage to parks is illegal. The “Steve & Lacy” graffiti was found on rocks and historic structures in Echo Canyon, Butte Valley, Homestake Dry Camp, and Crankshaft Junction. Defacing any part of the national park degrades the experience of other visitors. Repair of vandalized sites is costly and time consuming, and often cannot restore the site to its former condition in some cases permanently defacing unique historic sites or natural features.

“It is heartbreaking to see treasures like Death Valley National Park get damaged by intentional acts such as these,” said Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “We ask park visitors to help us find those who should be held responsible, and thank hard working park rangers for efforts to prevent further damage.”

Park rangers are still patrolling Death Valley National Park during the current temporary closure due to coronavirus. Through traffic is allowed on CA-190 and Daylight Pass Road.

The Tide May Be Turning In Northern Inyo Hospital’s Favor in Fight Against Coronavirus.

There is finally some good news when it comes to Northern Inyo Hospital’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

During Monday’s press conference with Rural Health Clinic Director, Dr. Stacey Brown, the hospital announced that the long-awaited  speedy coronavirus test will be ready for NIHD to use by the end of the week.

Brown said, “We finally got our rapid turnaround testing kits validated. The new testing protocol for coronavirus will take around an hour to complete. We will have this testing up and rolling by the end of the week.”

The rapid testing will mostly be used for critically ill patients and essential healthcare workers.

Dr. Brown also expressed that the hospital is aiming to expand testing capabilities to the general population in the future. The district would essentially move from a “containment” public health strategy, back to a “surveillance” strategy. With a “surveillance” strategy in place, NIHD would resume contact tracing, meaning the hospital would test those who have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 victim.

However, the hospital does not plan to test random individuals from the general public. The idea of doing so is simply unrealistic, since Dr. Brown said the hospital has roughly 200 testing kits available.

Brown added, “It would be an epidemiologist’s dream to test everyone in the town, but we don’t have the capacity to do that right now.”

Even better news than the rapid testing, is the notion that there is finally an end in sight when it comes to lessening social distancing measures and reintegrating various parts of society back in to the picture. As Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Will Timbers remarked, “The rational here [when it comes to opening services] is that even if we do see a surge of COVID-19 patients, it is unrealistic that this disease is going to go away after we have one big surge. It will likely be a slow burn for cases, but we have to get some people back to some semblance of normal life. To that end, over the next several weeks, the hospital will provide a wider scope of services. This is going to be more like a marathon opposed to a sprint.”

When it comes to an actual timeline of when some societal functions will return to normal, Inyo County Public Health Officer, Dr. James Richardson, recently said he expects social distancing measures to lessen around May. “I suspect around mid to late May, things will start to lighten up. However, there may be a undercurrent of this virus in our community for a while,” Richardson said at last week’s “Inyo County Virtual Town Hall Meeting.”

Dr. Brown shares similar sentiments when it comes to an expiration date on the intense measures currently being taken. “I would hope that we could start some sort of phased return to normalcy by sometime in May. I will put a caveat on that though. We will be following guidelines from state and the feds before we start to open up.  All kinds of functions of society must be carefully considered, and it has to be a staged and phased rollout to ensure that we don’t have to lock down everyone for another fourteen days.”

 

Eastern Sierra Families Need Your Help Getting Food

Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action (IMACA), has been busy over the past few of weeks. The organization has been delivering food to over 750 families. The amount of families in need of assistance has nearly doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

IMACA Executive Director, Bob Hughes, told KIBS/KBOV News that before the pandemic hit, about 300 families across the Eastern Sierra relied on the organization to receive their food.

With over 750 families relying on food deliveries from IMACA, a demand for volunteers who are willing to drop off food to families has become paramount.

Hughes says so far the community has stepped up when it comes to volunteers, but there is always a need for more.

If an individual would like to volunteer and help deliver food, he or she can visit IMACA’s website at www.imaca.net.

Those who are in need of food can also fill out a form under the “IMACA’s Food Distribution Delivery Program” tab on the homepage of www.imaca.net.

Coronavirus Testing Results Coming Back Faster for Northern Inyo Hospital

Northern Inyo Hospital gave their weekly COVID-19 update to members of the media on Monday, April 6, 2020.

Dr. Stacey Brown told the media that the hospital is currently functioning at full capacity. “NIH is fully functional for all services at this time. If you break your leg, we are here to treat that,” Brown expressed.

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Will Timbers, shifted the discussion to COVID testing protocols at the hospital. He highlighted false negative tests, which are tests where a patient appears to not have coronavirus, but ends up actually having it. “No test that we do is going to be 100% perfect. We need to make sure to get a really good nasal swab to ensure that we can find out if they have it or not. There are false negatives, where the tests aren’t completely reliable due to limitations in the testing,” Timbers remarked.

Brown added that testing kits will continue to be reserved for essential workers and those with pre-existing conditions. The Rural Health Director said, “The priorities for testing will be for critical staff and critically ill patients. We know the spread of COVID-19 is communicable, so there is no need to test the general public.”

The amount of time it takes for Northern Inyo Hospital to obtain COVID-19 results is becoming more efficient as each week passes. Brown told the media that the hospital is now getting results back in about a day and a half. “Turnaround testing via LabCorp takes about 1.5 days now. LabCorp in Phoenix is doing a really nice job of getting the results to us,” he remarked. When NIHD started testing last month, the turnaround time for lab results was taking anywhere between 7-10 days.

Patients can expect even faster coronavirus testing in the future. The hospital is about one to two weeks away from rolling out their in-house testing, which will take about an hour. “In-house testing is about a week or two off at this point. We are hoping to do in-house testing by the end of the month,” said Brown.

Whether to wear facial covering or not to reduce the spread of coronavirus has been a hot topic of discussion throughout the world, with the CDC now recommending that the general public wear masks after previously discouraging the public from using them. Dr. Brown is encouraging the general public to cover-up. “The CDC came down with recommendations for decreasing transmission in the community by wearing masks. The push on that is to have you protect the rest of the community from spewing out the virus from your mouth. It looks like many people are transmitting coronavirus without showing symptoms, so it is smart to wear masks. My anticipation is that you are going to see the adoption of the masks in our community,” Brown expressed.

The Rural Health Director stated that the community has been stepping up as far as helping out with medical supplies. One such program that Brown says has been quite successful is “project cover-up,” a grassroots effort in which local seamstresses and quilters have created masks for healthcare workers to use. “’Project Cover-Up’ has been a great example of the community stepping up during the pandemic,” Brown said. “So far, we have had over 200 masks donated.”

Dr. Brown is encouraging people to continue to donate medical supplies. “If people are interested in dropping off Personal Protective Equipment donations, you can drop them off at the front of the hospital.”

The Interim Chief Medical Officer, Will Timbers spoke about the possibility of people building up immunity to coronavirus, and if the data he has been examining is accurate, it is a promising sign. “It does seem like with the majority of patients who have COVID, that there is some herd immunity at this point. The data suggests that there are some antibodies that are being built up in patients,” Timbers said.

Antibody testing to see if patients with COVID-19 are building immunity to the virus will be implemented in medical facilities across the world soon. As for testing locally, the public can expect it to be ready some time around May. Dr. Brown said, “Larry Weber, our Director of Diagnostic Services, says there is a rush for antibody testing to be implemented by many companies. Larry and his team have vetted a company that has a good reputation, and that looks very promising. I still don’t see testing happening for a few weeks though. Right now, we are looking at early May.”

Teamwork and Preparation Most Important in NIHD’s Response to COVID-19

It is an overused analogy, the war against novel coronavirus, but as any employee at Northern Inyo Healthcare District will tell you, the battle is real. Ironically, it is a battle most have prepared for throughout their respective careers.

“Every team member brings something to the fight,” says Dr. Stacey Brown, Medical Director of NIHD’s Rural Health Clinic and current Vice Chief of Staff. “Every department plays a role.”

For NIHD Board President Jean Turner, the show of teamwork fits right into the District’s operational design. “When I came onto the Board, I was told our basic structure is that of an inverted pyramid,”
Turner says. “Leadership at the bottom, the workforce at the top. The top is where the real work goes on; it’s where things really matter. If I wanted our community to remember one thing at this point in time, it’s this: Our staff is disciplined, well-trained, and ready for this challenge.”

The District’s fight against coronavirus began in mid-January. For weeks, Infection Preventionist Robin Christensen, RN BSN HIC, kept an eye on what was transpiring in China. On January 28, she called the first team meeting to talk about coronavirus and its potential impact on NIHD and the community. Everyone in the room knew the odds, had watched the numbers coming in from China.

“It is safe to say we wished for the best, but as healthcare workers, we always prepare for the worst,” Christensen says. “It’s who we are; it’s what we do; it is what the community expects from us at a time like this.”’

As the NIHD team developed needed plans, they carried on with providing day-to-day care. Hallway conversations and internal emails began to refer to coronavirus more frequently. The District conducted a pandemic disaster drill on February 13. The tipping point came March 6 when a two-hour coronavirus meeting gave way to a day-long review of staffing levels, supplies, policies, plans, and shared concerns.

The group met the next afternoon again for several hours. They got a late start, beginning at noon. It gave those who volunteered to help at the Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance’s Blue Ribbon Walk & Run a chance to meet their commitment. For many at NIHD, it was the last “normal” day of the month.

NIHD initiated an internal Incident Command on March 10 and continues working under it today. Incident Commands use a standardized approach to direct, control, and coordinate emergency response. More importantly, it brings people together to reach a common goal.

Like her co-workers, this was not the first time Allison Partridge, RN MSN, worked under an Incident Command. Partridge, the Director of Nursing for the Emergency and Medical-Surgical departments, knows the system well and aids Chief Nursing Officer Tracy Aspel in keeping the daily meetings on task.

Partridge now spends much of her days working with others to put together workflows for the departments that will be most affected. With guidance from Infection Preventionist Christensen, Partridge
and others closely watch the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Public Health Department for direction. No area or service escaped review.

“We track daily our current availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and the recommendations for use,” Partridge says. “Additionally, we have made modifications in how we provide services and how visitors access the campus. All of these measures are in place to protect our teams and community. We encourage all employees to adhere both while at work and at home to the recommendations issued by national, state, and local government.”

Carefully crafted plans address the care of Patients Under Investigation (PUIs). Partridge says the standardized workflows are based on the patient’s level of care, whether that be critical care at the hospital or self-isolation at home. Care of multiple positive COVID-19 patients within the hospital remains an area of concern for the small 25-bed hospital.

“A great amount of planning and preparation has gone into every action, and it’s still ongoing,” Partridge says. She notes that just this week, the team was searching every square inch of the facility for places to place more beds. No space is overlooked. An unused and unfinished room located in the two-story hospital was turned into a four-bed safe patient care area within hours.

As for staffing, the level is adequate at this time. The District is working closely with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Union on staffing plans should the virus take hold of the community.

As non-essential services are scaled back, staff in those areas become available for use in others. Nurses and caregivers were surveyed to see if they would be OK to serve in other departments they were cross-trained to work in. Recently retired nurses may be considered for voluntary return to bolster staffing numbers. The dedicated care given by generations of NIHD nurses is legendary in the community.

They were also asked who would be willing to work with critical coronavirus cases. No one will be asked to step into a situation they are uncomfortable with — and to date, no one has opted out.

As for the physicians, Dr. Brown and Dr. William Timbers, NIHD’s Chief of Staff, are relying on the aid and advice of many of the District’s Medical Chiefs – Dr. Richard Meredick (Orthopedics), Dr. Charlotte Helvie (Pediatrics), Dr. Sierra Bourne (Emergency), and others. The Medical Support Staff office issued emergency credentials for other physicians in the area should their aid be required at bedsides.

The Rural Health Clinic team launched drive-in coronavirus testing well before some larger, urban hospitals did. The move was based on when the RHC offered drive-in flu shots more than a decade ago.
“Hometown health care can work anywhere, even in the big city,” Dr. Brown smiles.

Dr. Brown’s reliance on RHC Directors Paul Connolly and Jannalyn Lawrence, RN, is evident. Both work closely with the District’s outpatient clinics and played critical roles in clearing barriers for drive-in testing. When offered kudos for the work, Lawrence scoffed. “One Team, One Goal,” she says, incurring the closing line of the District’s mission statement.

Later, as Director of Nursing Partridge studies the endless worklists that paper the walls of Incident Command, she agreed with Lawrence. “Teamwork has played a huge role in managing every aspect of this situation,” she says. “This collaboration has taken place across all disciplines and has included a multiagency approach across Inyo and Mono counties. This great work truly exemplifies our mission of ‘One Team, One Goal, Your Health.’”

Meanwhile, as another day ends for the District team, Infection Preventionist Christensen is in her office. It is quiet in the usually bustling hallway; the result of the District’s temporary telework plan. Almost 80 employees are working from home, practicing social distancing.

Laying across Christensen’s desk are signs of a community lending its support to its healthcare workers: Packages of the valued N95 masks recovered from businesses and home garages, plus several handcrafted face masks. The handcrafted masks, with bright patterns of cacti, cats, and paisley, are especially touching
to Christensen.

NIHD is looking into options that could allow the homemade masks to be used as covers for approved personal protective equipment. That would occur if, and only if, NIHD’s supply of approved masks is
depleted. The covers would help keep the N95 masks free of transferred hand oils, possibly extending the life of the N95s.

“One team,” Christensen says, circling her index finger, gesturing from east to west, north to south. “It’s all of us in the community. Together, we will get through this.”

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