Inyo County's placement on monitoring list eminent

By: 
Register Staff
Staff Writer

Inyo County’s recent spike in COVID-19 cases has resulted in Inyo exceeding more than one of the state’s metrics used to determine whether a county is placed on the monitoring list. Inyo County’s Public Health Division of Health and Human Services was notified on Friday, Aug. 14, of the likelihood that the county will be officially placed on the list as of Monday, Aug. 17, which will result in the closure of indoor activities for additional industries.

Following a relatively stable period in positive cases, Inyo County recently experienced a significant increase in reported cases. As of Friday, Aug. 14, Inyo County has 65 active COVID-19 positive individuals, 39 of whom are Bishop Care Center residents or employees. Independent of the Bishop Care Center cases, the county witnessed an increased rate of community transmission with the local increase in numbers resulting in Inyo County exceeding the state metric rate of greater than 100 cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days and a positivity rate of greater than 8% for the past 9 days. The number of COVID-19 positive patients that have been admitted to Northern Inyo Hospital over the past week has also increased concern regarding impacts to Inyo’s healthcare infrastructure.

The county's current data would have resulted in Inyo’s placement on the monitoring list already had the state not placed a hold on adding or removing counties from the list. However, Public Health was notified this week that the State was likely to resume activity beginning next week and was notified yesterday of the eminency of Inyo County’s placement on the monitoring list.

Once the county is placed on the monitoring list, the following industries will be added to the list of businesses that must close indoor operations, but are able to modify to operate outside or by pick-up:

• Gyms and fitness centers

• Personal care services, like nail salons and body waxing

• Hair salons and barbershops

• Places of worship and cultural ceremonies, like weddings and funerals

• Offices for non-critical infrastructure sectors

• Shopping malls

Shops that offer tattoos, piercings, and electrolysis may not be operated outdoors and must close.

Also impacted are school districts, who are now required to open with distance learning. Dr. James Richardson, Inyo County Public Health officer, had already issued a recommendation to local school superintendents on Thursday, Aug. 13, to open with distance learning after closely reviewing our local data, as well as national data trends indicating a 90% increase in COVID-19 case positivity rates in children. During the meeting with superintendents, Richardson emphasized that “with the safety of children and teachers at stake, it is too risky to allow schools to reopen for full or partial in-person instruction. This is the case for both north and south county districts. The only way to allow in-person instruction would be to ensure that we have disease activity controlled in the community; which we do not have at this time. It is still essential that we get the virus under control because, as the risk goes up, our safety profile continues to go down.”

Inyo County is committed to supporting its schools, business community, and residents during this difficult transition. Modified industry guidance and other informational resources remain available at https://covid19.ca.gov/industry-guidance/#top. In addition, the county Business Liaison phone line remains at (760-878-8241). However, it remains vital for residents of Inyo County to follow local and statewide health orders and reduce transmission rates county-wide.

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