Tag Archives: KIBS Radio

NIH COVID-19 Update: General Population Testing Not Happening Any Time Soon

Key figures from Northern Inyo Hospital held a conference call to discuss where the healthcare district stands in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Will Timbers took the lead on the conference call and told the media what NIH’s plans are when it comes to testing.

Population testing may be available in the future, meaning that the public will be able to receive testing. However, NIH say they are not remarkably close to that becoming a reality. Timbers said, “Over the next few months we will be trying to keep the virus under control. However, there are a lot of significant barriers we have in relation to widespread testing.”

It is important to eventually implement large scale testing to safely reopen specific aspects of the economy. “The bigger the sample size, the more accurate information will be relating to COVID-19. The better picture you get, the easier it will be to understand the disease’s prevalence,” said Timbers. With a higher data sample, it becomes easier for officials to decide when it is okay to reopen the economy.

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Will Timbers says he worries that another epidemic could happen in the future. Another outbreak of an illness within the coronavirus family could be a real possibility. There have already been two other coronavirus diseases over the past twenty years. “Within the past twenty years, we have had three outbreaks of different coronaviruses including SARS and MERS. So, it is clearly happening with some regularity. There are thousands of coronaviruses in birds and mammals that could jump to humans,” Dr. Timbers remarked.

It is too early to tell if COVID-19 will turn into something like the flu, which occurs seasonally. However, Timbers says that the idea of the coronavirus evolving like influenza does is not out of the realm of possibility. “We do not know yet, [whether COVID-19 mutates like influenza] but I really hope not. There is something called antigenic drift for influenza. The flu changes rapidly every year, and we are always trying to catch up. It could happen with COVID too, but it is too early to tell. But again, I hope it is not the case, because it would be one of the worst-case scenarios,” Timbers expressed

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.

Northern Inyo Healthcare District Oust Former CEO Kevin Flanigan

At last evening’s special meeting of the Northern Inyo Healthcare District Board of Directors, the Board voted 5-0 to terminate the employment of Dr. Kevin S. Flanigan, MD MBA as Chief Executive Officer pursuant to his Employment Agreement, without cause, effective May 4, 2020.

Board Chair Jean Turner said the District wants to clarify that any reports that alleged Dr. Flanigan was accused of embezzlement are false and untrue. The Investigation focused on financial and operational issues and was never about embezzlement. The District is moving in a new direction and wishes Dr. Flanigan the best in his future endeavors.

Kelli Davis will continue to serve the District in the role of Interim CEO alongside Interim Chief Medical Officer William Timbers, MD; Chief Nursing Officer Tracy Aspel; and Chief of Staff Stacey Brown, MD.

In a message released to the staff earlier today, Turner noted the challenges staff faced since the Board placed Dr. Flanigan on paid administrative leave February 13.

“While the last few months have been incredibly challenging for our entire workforce, I note the steady and unrelenting teamwork that has become a trademark of this NIHD staff,” Turner wrote.  “On behalf of the Board, I thank each of you for your many emails, phone calls and visits to provide input, while simultaneously taking care of yourselves and our community through this COVID-19 pandemic. You have equipped the Board with your information and insights about challenges and opportunities ahead. I am confident that we will get through all such challenges and find even greater opportunities for problem solving.”

Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area is Closed for the Season

Bridgeport, CA., April 29, 2020 –The Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area (BWRA) on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Bridgeport Ranger District is officially closed for the season. This closure will remain in effect until the 2020-2021 winter season when the snow depth exceeds the minimum requirement of 24 inches, and a Forest Order is signed and posted as open for snowmobile use.

The Forest closure of the Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area to motorized travel occurs every year at the end of April regardless of snow cover. The intent of this action is to reduce user conflicts as snow melts and the California State Route 108 corridor nears opening.

Snowmobiling is currently still permitted on the north side of State Route 108 in non-wilderness areas of the Forest. United States Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center and Forest Service personnel may be present in the Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area for administrative use and law enforcement patrols.

If you have questions please contact Adrianne Thatcher, Bridgeport Ranger District’s Recreation Staff Officer, at 760-932-5812 or athatcher@fs.fed.us.

Inyo County Has First Coronavirus Death

INYO COUNTY, April 24, 2020 (5:00pm) – Inyo County’s Public Health Officer, Dr. James Richardson, received notification late afternoon from Northern Inyo Healthcare District regarding a COVID-19 positive patient fatality. This is the first death in Inyo County associated with COVID-19.

“It is with great sadness that I share this news with the public,” stated Dr. Richardson. “Everyone in the local medical community extends their most sincere condolences to the patient’s family and friends.”

Inyo County has had a total of 19 COVID-19 cases confirmed, with 13 recoveries. Of the 247 tests administered to date, 17 tests are pending, and 211 have been negative.

It is essential that the public practice preventative measures, such as avoiding contact with sick individuals, washing hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, practicing social distancing, wearing a cloth face covering when in public and adhering 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.

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.

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.

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.”


Mono Public Health Officer Orders All Essential Workers to Wear Masks

April 13, 2020 – Effective immediately, all individuals working in essential sectors throughout Mono County and the Town of Mammoth Lakes are required to wear a face covering or mask to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19. Under Governor Newsom’s Stay At Home Order issued on March 19 2020, only workers in essential sectors should be currently working and this order applies to all, from essential retail operations, construction, utilities, medical, food service, etc., to public safety and government personnel.

Physical distancing and staying at home is the most effective way to control the spread of COVID-19, and it is working both locally and across the state. Mono County experienced a dramatic 55 – 70% decrease in the average mobility (based on distance traveled) of residents during the past few weeks that has drastically new infections. Masking or wearing cloth face covers is expected to further diminish the number of new infections, primarily by reducing the spread by infected people who have no symptoms. The CDC states that about twenty-five percent of people with COVID-19 have no symptoms.


Mono County Public Health Officer, Dr. Tom Boo, anticipates issuing a follow-up order requiring everyone to cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when in public, which should go into effect before the Stay At Home Order expires.

We anticipate masking to become our new normal in the time of the pandemic, and that physical distancing and other mitigation must continue even after the Stay At Home Order is lifted. We are experiencing some respite, but we are clearly not out of the woods yet. You may say we have a bit of a cease fire, but the war is not over,” stated Dr. Boo.

Dr Boo further stated that “The virus is still out there and can be expected to rebound with diminishing physical distance measures and vigilant hand washing, as we try to get more people back to work. We cannot eliminate the virus without a highly effective vaccine. When we move into the next phase, some social restrictions must stay in place. We are still a long way from being able to go back to normal life.”

In anticipation of the continued spread of the virus through Mono County and the impacts to our residents, the Health Department has increased staffing levels. The Nurse Hotline, accessible by calling 211, combined with improved testing capacity will be essential to our combined efforts to identify people affected by COVID-19. In addition, Mammoth Hospital continues to work with public agencies to coordinate hospital care with follow-up monitoring and patient support at home. A primary area of focus for Mammoth Hospital and medical teams across the country is the expansion of testing for quick results to know if someone is ill and antibody testing to know if some has already had the disease. To determine the effectiveness of these aggressive mitigation measures, the Mono County IT Department has built a new database for tracking cases that will greatly enhance a well-coordinated response enhancing our level of patient and family care

Coronavirus Town Hall Recap: When Will Normal Life Return?

On Thursday, April 9, 2020, Inyo County hosted a virtual town hall meeting to discuss the coronavirus. Officials from all healthcare facilities including, Toiyabe, Northern Inyo Hospital, and Southern Inyo Hospital, along with key figures from the City of Bishop and Inyo County were in attendance.

In total, twelve panelists were present during the discussion, with over 250 citizens tuning in to the town hall.

Inyo County Administrative Officer, Clint Quilter, served as the moderator, fielding questions from the public, and allowing each panel participant to give an update on where things stand when it comes to managing the COVID-19 crisis.

Southern Inyo Hospital CEO, Peter Spiers, was one of the first people to speak. Spiers, who has been in the Eastern Sierra for about eight months, talked about how he believes the community has enough strength and resolve to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Spiers said, “I truly believe that by the grace of God, we have met this challenge with a resolve and commitment as a hospital. This is a unique place. From first day I was here, everyone was committed to making the hospital survive and thrive.”

Spiers also says the healthcare district has been taking a proactive approach since February to prepare for the pandemic. He went on to say, “We took aggressive measures starting in February, and made sure to screen all of our employees before they came to work.”

Chief Operating Officer of Toiyabe, Ethan Dexter, said that the health clinic is taking extra precautions when it comes to helping the public. Dexter remarked that all public health workers are sanitizing and wearing masks when doing wellness checks for patients.

Representing Northern Inyo Healthcare District during the discussion, was Dr. William Timbers, the newly appointed Interim Chief Medical Officer. Timbers gave a fifteen-minute PowerPoint presentation to attendees explaining the background of COVID-19 and told where things stand as far as the latest research on the virus.

After the healthcare officials finished speaking, Quilter turned the presentation over to local government officials from Inyo County and Bishop.

Bishop Mayor, Laura Smith, talked about the need for the city and the Eastern Sierra region to come together and embrace sacrifice for the greater good. Smith said, “City Council officials are elected by the people, and our hearts are with the people who are suffering. We need to band together as an Eastern Sierra community. That is how we are going to move past this problem.”

When it comes to sacrifices, Mayor Smith says the city will meet on April 13, 2020 to discuss what can be done to help the citizens of Bishop, even if it hurts the city fiscally. “There is going to be some sacrifice involved in order to combat this crisis. We are meeting as a city to see what sacrifices need to be made,” Smith remarked.

Chairman of the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, Matt Kingsley spoke after Mayor Smith, and commended the community for the job it has done helping those in need. The fifth district supervisor said, “I first wanted to recognize the efforts of our county staff, and the medical workers and volunteers around the community. Lunches are being served to kids and senior citizens, quilting clubs are making masks, and community activities are being organized like Easter Bunny drive-bys,”

Though pleased with the efforts of the community, Kingsley expressed displeasure with the fact that he can only provide a limited amount of help to his south county constituents during this pandemic. “My biggest frustration is not being able to communicate with my constituents. This is a great effort that we are doing in helping the community. But we have to realize that not all constituents have internet, so we have to find a way to help them.”

Inyo County Public Health Officer, Dr. James Richardson, was one of the panelists who had the most to say during the event.

To start things off, Richardson said, “As a public health officer, my goal is to protect the health of the citizens. Right now, the goal is to limit the impact of disease on local healthcare systems so they are not overwhelmed.”

Most of what Richardson discussed related to the importance of covering up with a cloth mask when going out in public, washing hands, and social distancing.

However, the Inyo County Public Health Officer stated that if an outbreak of coronavirus gets bad enough in the area, he will order the construction of alternative sites to help treat patients. “We are willing to develop alternative sites if needed along with increasing beds if things get bad.”

According to Dr. Richardson, there may be light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to life going back to some semblance of normal. “I have noticed recently in the latest predictive models, the estimation of deaths has gone down,” Richardson said. “I suspect in mid to late May, things will start lightening up. There may be an undercurrent of this virus in our community for a while though.”

CA Fish and Game Commission Set to Discuss Postponing Trout Opener

The California Fish and Game Commission will remotely meet to discuss delegating temporary authority to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to delay, suspend or restrict sport or recreational fishing if the director of CDFW, in consultation with the president of the Commission, finds that such action is necessary to protect against the threat from COVID-19 based on state, federal, local, and tribal public health guidance and public safety needs.
When: Thursday, April 9, 2020 at 8:30 a.m.
Where: Via teleconference and webinar
Members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed emergency regulation by calling (877) 402-9753 or (636) 651-3141; access code 832 4310. Webinar details are on the agenda.

More: The meeting agenda and documents are available on the

Commission’s website at https://fgc.ca.gov/Meetings/2020
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission will discuss whether or not to temporarily grant authority to CDFW to decide whether to delay, restrict, or suspend sport or recreational fishing in order to prevent and mitigate public health risks that may arise when people travel for fishing trips or congregate while participating in available fishing opportunities. CDFW and the Commission have received requests from county representatives and local health authorities requesting delays to recreational fish openers such as the Eastern Sierra trout opener scheduled for April 25, 2020.

11th COVID-19 Case Confirmed in Inyo County

INYO COUNTY, April 5, 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 11th 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 COVID19 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 April 4, Inyo County has 12 tests pending and 101 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 wearing a cloth or fabric face mask when conducting essential activities outside the home, 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.

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.