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Inyo Public Health Officer Gives Coronavirus Update

Inyo County Public Health Officer, Dr. James Richardson talked to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday afternoon. Richardson gave an update on where things stand relating to coronavirus locally.

“We have been having meetings with local healthcare providers and various industries in the county relating to coronavirus.” Richardson said.

There have been rumors circling around the Owens Valley of local individuals having COVID-19, however, Richardson made sure to debunk those myths. “There have been rumors of positive cases, but right now we have no positive cases.”

Though there are no confirmed cases in Inyo County, that does not mean there are not any hurdles for the Department of Public Health to jump through. Currently, there is a personal protective equipment shortage in the Eastern Sierra.

We are short on supplies of PPE, N-95 masks, and we have expired masks we are using in the meantime. We are ready as best as we can.”

Richardson talked about some of the steps his department is taking to curtail cases of novel coronavirus. He highlighted the four plans in place to deal with an incoming viral crisis: prevention, containment, mitigation, and lock down.

Richardson discussed how testing is the most important thing public health officials can do to prevent an outbreak of coronavirus. “We are trying to do our best to contain any new cases in Inyo County, and we are doing our best to implement testing. We need to test those who are positive [for COVID-19] and isolate them from the public.” Richardson said.

In the present, testing is not as effective as it could be according to the Inyo County Health Officer. There is currently a long wait time to see if a person has contracted coronavirus. “Right now, we are looking at ways to get back quicker test results. We were sending them to LabCorp, but we found out they send the testing back east, so we are working on getting results back quicker.”

In the near future, testing will be conducted in California, which will allow for faster results.

The most ideal situation according to Richardson, would be localized testing. “If we had testing at a local level, we would be able to confirm cases within a few hours to just one day.”

There is no timeline as to when localized testing of COVID-19 will be a possibility.