With the surging numbers of positive coronavirus cases and two deaths at the local nursing care center in Bishop, there was almost a fatalistic acceptance among some county officials that Inyo County would be placed on the state’s COVID-19 Watch list.
But it turns out that the county might be getting a brief reprieve thanks to the state’s coronavirus data tracking system, The California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE), which the state has relied upon in making decisions on who should be placed on the Watch List. It turns out it has some problems as the result of “an unresolved technical problem,” said state health officials on Wednesday, August 15.
Because of the data issue, they have had to stop removing or adding to a list of counties that faced more restrictions on businesses, indoor gatherings and activities, and schools, until it is fixed. Currently, 38 of 58 counties are on the list, with all major counties already on the list. However, this brief “stay” does not mean that Inyo County is out of the woods and will dodge being placed on the State Monitoring/Watch list once the problem is resolved.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of Saturday, August 8, California still has the greatest number of reported positive coronavirus cases in the country at 538,416 with 10,011 deaths.
Keep in mind that, according to health officials in California, the true number of cases is even higher than what the reporting system was recording. There is always a delay between the time a death occurs and the time it is reported to the state. Credibility is crucial to public health officials in keeping the public’s trust and cooperation.
Nationally, the numbers of positive coronavirus cases are now at 4,920,369 with 160,220 deaths in just the past 6 months. Many experts are predicting as many as 300,000 COVID-19 deaths by the end of the year.That is 236,000 more deaths than the last recorded number of deaths in the CDC’s last complete influenza report for the 2017-2018 season. And influenza has a vaccine; COVID-19 does not.
The U.S. currently leads the rest of the entire world in the number of positive COVID-19 cases and deaths, and that doesn’t look like it is about to change.
California’s CalREDIE system uses data from testing labs around the state to decide which counties might land on the state’s watch list. To come off the list, a listed county must wait for 14 days, and it can then begin to reopen activities, and reopen certain businesses, or offer in-person classroom instruction.
The Inyo County Health Department has apparently ramped up its efforts over several weeks to bring non-compliant businesses in line with health orders, according to Inyo County CAO, Clint Quilter. He explained their efforts and how the process works. He stated that the county will not be dealing with the issue through, or based on, social media, but rather a process that involves the county first sending an “official letter” to a non-compliant business and working with the business to bring it into compliance. Quilter noted that, thanks to hard-working and dedicated county employees, their efforts have already had some success by using persuasion rather than confrontation and threats.
The public perception, and to some extent, the media as well, has been that the county has been doing little, but apparently that has not the case. Once the county comes to an agreement with a business, it will use using anonymous people visiting the business on a regular basis to ensure continued compliance. If the violations have not stopped, the observations will be used to generate enough evidence to request issuance of a temporary restraining order from the courts, which will be enforced.
The combination of compliance, timely, accurate information, and working with businesses will go a long way in eradicating or at least, mitigating the rates of infection, hospitalization, and deaths in the county and the state .