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Don’t Even Think About Price Gouging…

Inyo County District Attorney Tom Hardy wants to remind local citizens of California’s anti-price gouging laws. “The health and safety of our community is everyone’s primary concern right now, and it is gratifying to see the citizens and businesses of Inyo County working together in our current challenging times. But, California’s legislature long-ago implemented a law to protect citizens from price gouging during declared emergencies”.

California law generally prohibits businesses and individuals from raising prices for 30 days after an emergency declaration. Declarations of emergency have been made by the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, the Governor, and the President regarding the Coronavirus, triggering the effect of pricegouging laws.

“At this point in time, we are not aware of any incidents of price gouging in Inyo County, and our business community deserves high praise for working long hours to provide necessary goods and services to our citizens,” said Hardy.

Under Penal Code Section 396, it is illegal to charge a price for essential goods and services that is more than 10 percent higher than the price charged immediately before the emergency declaration, a practice commonly known as price gouging. The law applies to consumer food items, goods, or services used for emergency cleanup, emergency supplies, medical supplies, home heating oil, building materials, housing, transportation, freight, storage services, gasoline, and other motor fuels. Price gouging is subject to criminal prosecution and carries a penalty of up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Violators may also face civil enforcement actions and penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, plus mandatory restitution.

If anyone becomes aware of incidents of price gouging, they should report the problem to the District Attorney Criminal Investigations Division at 760.873.7987. Reports can also be submitted via email to: inyoda@inyocounty.us.

No School Postponement Planned for Inyo County

Inyo County Superintendent of Schools, Barry Simpson discussed the possibility of closing school Friday morning.

“This is a real fluid situation. We are getting multiple updates from the state and local levels. There are no school closures, but that is subject to change.”

Simpson says Inyo County Schools will make its decision to close school depending on what the department of public health says. “Yesterday, superintendents met with Public health Director, James Richardson, and will follow the guidance the departments put out when it comes to closing school.” Simpson expressed.

The superintendent made it clear that his office is in constant contact with health officials, as well as all superintendents from Lone Pine, Owens Valley, Big Pine, and Bishop Unified School Districts to make sure everyone has the most up-to-date information.

“We have a conference line, and superintendents are having daily check-ins right now. We will be in regular communication.” he said.

Simpson expressed his frustration with having to possibly close school. One reason he does not like it, is because underprivileged youth will be affected.

“We don’t like the closures because of the effect it has on socioeconomically challenged students who rely on meals they may not get at home. We are attempting to keep our schools open as long as we can, but we will close them if circumstances arise.”

More updates will follow as this story progresses.

What Effect Will Coronavirus Have on Local Schools?

Novel Coronavirus is now considered a pandemic according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Public gatherings are being canceled worldwide including concerts, sporting events, church meetings, and even school.

Though there have been no confirmed cases in the Eastern Sierra, that isn’t stopping officials from mulling over the idea of suspending school.

Inyo County Superintendent of Schools, Barry Simpson has been talking to the Inyo County Department of Public Health, to see what direction districts should be taking relating to the possible postponement of school.

Simpson said, “Canceling school is being discussed as a potential measure, but that action is not imminent right now.”

If a local case of COVID-19 is reported, that could obviously change the entire situation as far as measures taken by the Inyo County Office of Education. The superintendent added, “We will determine if there are cases in the area, and we will act accordingly.”

Any decision to cancel school will likely come via instruction from the Inyo County Department of Public Health. However, Simpson says a decision to close areas of education comes down to the individual school districts. “When it comes to closures, it happens locally by each school district, meaning Big Pine, Owens Valley, Bishop, and Lone Pine, superintendents have to make that choice. My job is to make sure everyone has the right information so the districts can act accordingly.”

Spring break is happening next week for students, and the Inyo County Superintendent has instructed district staffs to thoroughly clean all rooms at each school. “We are diligently cleaning schools right now, but the break will allow us to increase the cleaning of all our facilities.” Simpson told KIBS/KBOV News.

The county is also looking at ways to continue education if kids are prohibited from going to school. Though Simpson acknowledged that online education is not ideal due to some students not having access to internet, it that may be one of the only options available if students are forced to stay home.

Superintendent Simpson will meet with other district superintendents and public health officials on Thursday to discuss the next steps as coronavirus cases sweep through the world.

What Coronavirus Means for the Eastern Sierra


On February 26, 2020, the California Department of Public Health confirmed that a California resident from Solano County was hospitalized with novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and likely caught the illness from someone in the community. At the time this information was released, this was the first person in the United States with confirmed COVID-19 infection who has not traveled outside the United States or had contact with known cases.

Most people who contract COVID-19, have mild disease. Severe illness seems uncommon in children, and no deaths have been reported in children under 9 years old. In some cases, the infection can lead to serious illness or death, particularly in older people with other health conditions. COVID-19 primarily causes respiratory symptoms, fever, cough and fatigue, and may progress to pneumonia. Cold symptoms such as runny nose and sore throat are uncommon with this coronavirus and usually indicate simple colds.

Health officials expect to see an increase in the number of people who catch the virus in community settings. It is time to think about ways to reduce chances of getting the virus and of spreading it to others. The COVID19 virus spreads like the flu, mostly by inhaling the tiny droplets produced by coughing and sneezing in close quarters, and sometimes by getting virus on our hands and then touching our nose, eyes or mouth.

Scientists are working urgently to develop vaccines and anti-viral medications for this new virus, but it will be months or years before they are ready for use. Treatment for this disease, like many viral illnesses, is supportive. Most people who get sick will recover on their own. Patients who are severely ill may need to be hospitalized. Treatment is likely to change over time as we learn more about this new disease.

There are simple things everyone should do now at work, home, school, and in the community to reduce the spread of COVID-19, as well as flu and common colds:

• Wash your hands frequently using soap for at least 20 seconds and lathering your palms, fingers, fingertips, backs of your hands and under your nails

• When no handwashing facilities are available, disinfect your hands with alcohol sanitizer (containing 60% or more alcohol).

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

• Stay away from others when you are sick, particularly by staying home from work or school.

• Cover your mouth with tissue or your arm when coughing or sneezing (not your hand). If available, you may wear a surgical mask when you are sick to protect people around you.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

• Encourage employees and students to stay home from work or school when they are sick.

• Businesses can encourage sick customers and clients to complete business through phone, email, or other means which do not require face-to-face interactions when possible

• Consider “social distancing” to reduce your interactions with other people, especially if you are older or have medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, diabetes or cancer, which increase the chance of severe illness if you are infected with the COVID-19 virus.

• If you are sick with fever and cough or shortness of breath, please let your doctor’s office or hospital emergency room know of your symptoms before you come, so that precautions can be taken to reduce spreading it to other people. Similarly, if you need an ambulance, let the 911 dispatcher know that you have symptoms that might mean COVID-19

Mono and Inyo County public health officials are and will continue to communicate with medical facilities, emergency personnel, schools, businesses and other community resources to provide guidance on COVID-19 and possible prevention measures that can be taken as the situation evolves. For current and reliable information about COVID-19 go to the websites of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; www.cdc.gov ) or the California Department of Public Health (www.cdph.ca.gov).


Dr. Tom Boo, Mono County Public Health Officer tboo@mono.ca.gov 760.924.1828

Dr. James Richardson, Inyo County Health Officer healthofficer@inyocounty.us 760.873.7868