Mono County dodged a bullet two weeks ago, escaping the most restrictive widespread tier in California’s battle against COVID-19. But, with 37 new cases, not related to the outbreak at the Mountain Warfare Training Center at Pickel Meadows and a 9.5-percent positive testing rate, the County is now officially in the purple, widespread, tier.
Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Boo outlined the restrictions at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting and strongly recommended the Board look at a wider stay-at-home order. “This is an urgent situation,” he said. “We’re in for a hard, dark winter with the vaccine just on the other side.”
While Boo said Mammoth Hospital is functioning “okay,” the real issue is the possibility of overpowering the hospital and the County’s ability to effectively handle the surge. Transfers to hospitals in Reno and Carson City may not be a viable alternative if a second surge follows the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Board discussed possible action to try to reduce future surges in the disease. One alternative is re-visiting restrictions on lodging if the State opts for another travel ban. Public Health Officer Brian Wheeler said the vaccine could be available at the end of this month or early January. He anticipated 975 initial doses (two shots 28 days apart are required) will be initially allocated to Mono and Inyo counties. Health care providers and senior nursing facilities would be high on the list for those doses.
”We’re going to have a wave of bankruptcies,” said Supervisor Fred Stump. “Our students are losing a year with a 50-percent fail rate. We need to acknowledge this.” Chair Stacy Corless responded, “we’re all angry. We don’t live in a bubble. People’s lives are the issue.”
The Board also dealt with recovery efforts following the Mountain View Fire, the second of the County’s two disaster declarations. A total of $1 million County dollars has been split between the fire and COVID-19. The fire destroyed nearly 100 structures in Walker and scorched more than 20,000 acres.
The County has requested funding from the California Department of Emergency Assistance according to Justin Nalder, the head of the Emergency Operations Center for the fire. “Phase one is hazardous waste cleanup,” he said. “Phase two is clean-up of everything else.
Looking a step beyond, next is intermediate housing.” An estimated 30-percent of the 96 homes destroyed were uninsured.
The Antelope Valley Community Center has been established as the assistance center which will be opened from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Fifth District Supervisor John Peters acknowledged some of the organizations helping out, including the Red Cross, Lions Club, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Chambers of Commerce in Mammoth and Northern Mono.