Inyo County Supes & Bishop City Council Want More Local Control in Covid-19 Restrictions

Inyo County and the City of Bishop officials want more “local determination” in restrictions as applied to local businesses

Both the Inyo County Board of Supervisors and Bishop City Council are trying very hard to regain some local control over COVID-19 restrictions.

Just a few weeks ago, there was a glimmer of hope as cases stabilized state-wide. But case numbers ratcheted up dramatically and Governor Gavin Newsom reversed his decision to roll-back restrictions. So, we’re back where we were a less than a month ago. The Board and City Council are hoping Newsom’s commitment to “local determination” can be applied to local businesses in Inyo.

The first move, Tuesday, was a resolution by the Supervisors to ease the process for local shops and particularly restaurants to conduct business outdoors. Normally, a Conditional Use Permit would be required, but with the unanimous approval of the Board, restaurants can set up eating areas outdoors on property owned by the business or with the permission of the landowner.

County Counsel Marshall Rudolph’s explanation: the enforcing codes are discretionary, to an extent. There is no change in the regulations, we’re just choosing to exercise our discretion.”

On Thursday, the Board approved a request to the California Departments of Public Health and Health & Human Services to allow Inyo County to exercise its local determination over business openings and closures. Bishop City Council also met Thursday morning to approve a similar letter to Newsom and State Senator Andreas Borgeas.

“We want to use our own metrics to determine what we do,” was Inyo’s HHS Director Marilyn Mann’s explanation. One of the metrics Inyo identified during the attestation process was five unrelated cases in a week would generate a pause in the County’s opening procedures. That number, in essence, would indicate a broader community spread.

While the number of cases has risen to 41 (now 42, as of July 23), that specific metric has not been reached. In addition, staff maintained there is an increase in compliance with required masks and social distancing. The County is logging complaints and reaching out to businesses. “There are civil or criminal options,” said Meagan McCamman, HHS’s assistant director, “though we don’t want to go down that path.”

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18 Responses to Inyo County Supes & Bishop City Council Want More Local Control in Covid-19 Restrictions

  1. Scott Pfuhl August 4, 2020 at 5:12 am #

    Schools should remain closed during this pandemic. Opening them is a death sentence for anyone with a compromised immune system.

  2. Frankly, I don't trust them July 28, 2020 at 1:01 pm #

    Wouldn’t the state and the public need to have some confidence and trust that the county is a reliable partner in enforcing the health protocols in order to allow them authority to make local decisions?
    So far, it appears that the health officer and the health department in Inyo County have not done jack about businesses that blatantly have not been following the guidelines. Until the state and the county residents see some evidence that the county is seriously prepared to do whatever is needed to ensure compliance with health orders, why on earth should anyone trust them?

  3. JKB July 27, 2020 at 10:47 am #

    Remember in the beginning the advice for a long time from the experts was to not wear masks?
    Village Witch, just put big signs out on both ends of town saying
    ‘Keep Moving,You Are Not Welcome In Bishop’
    People believe that when a gas station and store is open that they are welcome to stop. Keep yourself safe with your precautions and know that we must share the world with others.

    • Charles James July 27, 2020 at 11:03 am #

      There are two things that argue against following your advice:

      1) Wearing masks was ‘deliberately discouraged’ at the beginning of the pandemic to make sure that vital medical personnel had access to them as they were in very short supply. The CDC and other medical authorities have admitted as much. Once supply stabilized, and more has become known about the contagion, they changed their recommendation and a great deal more is known about the subject which supports that it is a very good idea to wear a mask or face covering to protect others.

      Interestingly, because of the wide-spread use of masks, it is now being reported that incidents of the flu are way down in the southern hemisphere which would normally be experiencing flu this time of year, which is actually their winter. Apparently, the same measures used to protect people from contagion of the coronavirus. i.e., wearing masks and social distancing, are also very effective against the flu…which I suspect doesn’t surprise many of us. It should be noted that you can have both the flu and the coronavirus at the same time, and there are fears it may prove far more deadly in combination than just one or the other.

      2) Given the wide-spread reporting of mandates for wearing masks and social distancing, there is no reason for visitors coming to our area to not know that masks are required. The idea that they have little or no knowledge of masking requirements (health notices are required to be posted on the door of all businesses, and are also found on billboards and electronic traffic signs along the highway and entering towns) is ridiculous and illogical. Nor is there any reason that they should somehow “be given a pass” to ignore clearly posted local health orders. That our businesses should be accommodating to their ignorance or poor choices because “we must share the world with others,” is an absurd argument that defies both logic and common sense.


  4. VillageWitch July 26, 2020 at 2:53 pm #

    Charles, thank you for the article.

    • Good bye July 28, 2020 at 11:26 am #

      I would love to help you with the signs. Let’s get this done!!>

  5. VillageWitch July 26, 2020 at 9:58 am #

    JKB, you act like I’m not already implementing these precautions. I never would consider going to Schats, let alone during a pandemic. I always wear a mask and gloves when out. I haven’t been to Mammoth in months! You mean you think, not “know” that most tourists are passing through without stopping. Well sorry your wrong. They stop at gas stations, they stop and get supplies at the grocery stores, they stop for food and drinks. Town is packed!
    I’m not concerned about summer season ending soon. I’m worried about this pandemic ending!

    • Charles James July 26, 2020 at 12:19 pm #

      VillageWitch, thank you for your comments.
      Just a note on use of gloves when out. You might find this article interesting: Should You Be Wearing Gloves During COVID-19?
      The recent general advice appears to be to not wear gloves. In the end the choice is always yours based on your own research.
      Thank you for following health precautions while out in public. Please “Stay well…and stay safe!”

  6. JKB July 25, 2020 at 9:21 pm #

    Maybe ; do not go into town except to grocery shop early , wear a mask and gloves, do not go to Schats right now when tourists are lined up, protect yourself, stay away from Airbnb rental next door-they will leave, stay away from locals unwilling to wear a mask,you know to wear your mask, do not go into Mammoth while others are there living and working, know that many people on the highway are just passing through not stopping, consider that you live on a main tourist route similar to Main Street traffic in a large city and it is summer.
    Summer season will calm down soon.

  7. Earl Duran July 25, 2020 at 3:21 pm #

    Shut down Mammoth for at least 14 days. 395 has been no stop from Pearsonville to Bishop all week.

  8. eric h. July 24, 2020 at 6:28 pm #

    Just drove by the guest house next to Schats and there was a large group all packed together, if you want local control you might want to show you are capable of making responsible decisions.

    • eric h. July 24, 2020 at 6:29 pm #

      Sorry, I forgot to mention I didn’t see a single mask.

  9. VillageWitch July 24, 2020 at 6:23 pm #

    What a sad community we live in when our leaders and council members are more concerned about the almighty dollar then the health, safety and lives of the residents. We will remember this come Election Day!
    Main Street looked like fishing opener today. The line at Schats bakkery wrapped around the building with no social distancing. Inside the hardware store was a man without a mask despite two posted signs at the entrance. When we informed the clerk at the register he said he wished he could say something but wasn’t allowed to and didn’t want to lose his job. All this talk about how Inyo is following the rules and we’re doing so good, well I just don’t see it.

  10. big dice mcgee July 24, 2020 at 4:56 pm #

    There were three responses but Inyo can’t handle facts

  11. Art La Cues July 24, 2020 at 2:11 pm #

    I agree with Harold. The local governmental agencies are weak and will cave to political and economic pressure to re-open recklessly regardless of public health concerns.. I hope the state puts its foot down and says NO!

  12. Russ Monroe July 24, 2020 at 11:26 am #

    The “one size fits all” approach of the first “closure” failed in many respects, not the least of which was the insanity of an open highway with almost every public toilet in this part of the county closed. Common sense should have been dictated by the fact that thousands of travelers per day still will have bodily functions and “closing” toilets does not stop those functions from occuring, but common sense is often not very common. The campground closures forced travelers to camp in less appropriate places, then the closure of the Alabama Hills to dispersed camping forced them all to roads ends all around the valley. In campgrounds these visitors would have been more likely to be supervised but at roads end it was a free for all, the debris of which locals are still picking up.
    My first question to local authority is; In a global pandemic with such a high transmission rate, why are short term rentals allowed to bring people from all over the planet into the center of our residential communities? Locals can stay home and away from the commercial areas, but when the world is invited to hang out next door, our safety is further compromised. We have no choice but to change our patterns to fit the virus until we get control of it.
    The problems are numerous and difficult, but we have known how to make a self sanitizing toilet for a hundred years, now we need to do it!

  13. Harold July 24, 2020 at 10:25 am #

    Because they’ve done such a stellar job? No faith in any of them to do what’s right.

    • Whatever July 27, 2020 at 9:23 am #

      It is oh-so-easy so be a critic. Fun fact – no one’s ever dealt with a pandemic before. I think they’re doing the best they can to protect residents and businesses given the circumstances, and moreover, given their control over anything outside of Inyo County.

      Let’s hear some of your clever ideas, smarty pants.


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