Our public health authorities have been warning residents of Inyo and Mono counties for months that the Eastern Sierra would eventually experience a sharp increase in the numbers of positive COVID-19 cases. The new number of positive COVID-19 cases reported in Mono County as of late Sunday afternoon, July 19th, sits at 79!
With the notable increase of positive cases in Mono County coming on the heels of another sharp increase just a day or so before, it may be that the warnings are finally “coming home to roost.” It has been well-reported that COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in California, as well as across the country in over 30 states in just the past few weeks. And at least 30 states are now requiring and enforcing wearing of face masks/coverings in public, and in some cases fining those not wearing face coverings.
To date, according to Worldometer, which tracks the coronavirus statistics from around the world, here in the United States we have 3,898,550 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 143,289 deaths, and 1,802,338 recovered nationally reported for July 18. Every day recently, there is a report of yet another record being broken somewhere in the U.S. And so far, there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight or any indication that the pandemic it is going away anytime soon.
Mono County positive cases of COVID-19 cases, which had been steadily increasing by one almost every day, suddenly jumped from 40 a little over two weeks ago, to a surprising 79 cases as of this Sunday evening, July 19. The last four days have seen an increase of twenty-five new cases jumping from 54 to 79.
While Inyo County supervisors recently expressed frustration with the state’s latest rollback order re-instituting restrictions on many indoor activities, they recognized that local enforcement of health orders needed to be clarified, reinforced and also, better enforced. Many cities and communities across the country are now fining people who refuse to wear a mask as mandated. Whether Inyo and Mono counties will do so is uncertain. The preferred method so far seems to be to used persuasion to ensure compliance.
Inyo County, which has had a remarkable level of compliance to its health orders and in its efforts at containment of the virus, is responding to the threat of increased COVID-19 Cases with a sterner approach.
On Monday, July 13, the county issued its Revised Masking Order mandating stricter compliance and enforcement. One reason for the action is that many residents have complained, especially on social media platforms, that certain businesses and their customers, along with tourists and visitors, appear to be ignoring the health orders on wearing face coverings and maintaining social/physical distancing. The other reason is that, if they don’t start doing something, the county potentially faces a county-wide shut-down again by the state.
While there appears to be no “official” county or state “Tip” or “Complaint” lines to report businesses or groups not compliant with county public health orders, Inyo County Assistant County Administrative Officer, Leslie Chapman, said at last Tuesday’s County Board of Supervisors meeting that the county’s COVID-19 Business Help Line at (760) 878-8241 has turned into a complaint line “because people are very concerned about the lack of masking.” The public has apparently, also been registering their complaints as well through email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chapman said the county is keeping a log of calls and complaints, and county staff have been following up with businesses and trying to do some education, coaching and applying pressure to bring the offenders into compliance.
To date there have been no formal actions taken by the county to enforce compliance, which doesn’t mean there haven’t been any. If there are, it should be a matter of public record. For their own health and safety, the public has a right to know which businesses or groups are not following the rules which, under attestation, they agreed to follow in order to reopen.
Inyo County’s COVID-19 Update website recently posted that it had 38 Positive COVID-19 Cases as of yesterday, Friday, July 17. Mono County’s COVID-19 website gives the public the Current Status of cases using real-time, up-to-date information. Again, Mono County has 79 positive COVID-19 cases as of Sunday evening, July 19.
The upward trend in positive cases is likely to continue according to health officials. So, batten down the hatches. Please wear a mask. It is the law. And notify the county of any businesses or situations not in compliance with public health orders.