The winter of discontent (at least for Mammoth Lakes lodging operators) may be coming to an end.
Mammoth town officials issued updated guidance on Saturday, February 27, that removed a 70% restriction on occupancy for short term lodging.
The order went into effect on March 1.
While the order loosened the restrictions, a number of guidelines remained in place, most notably the 24-hour gap between stays.
All bedding, linens, etc. must be laundered between occupancies, kitchen supplies/food preparation areas must be sanitized between guests and all occupancies are still limited to members of the same household/living unit.
The new order comes after weeks of complaints by local lodging operators that the restriction was too severe and lacked sufficient reasoning.
Initially, the town wanted 60% occupancy before quickly bumping the number up to 70% in late January, where it remained until the February 27 order was issued.
Also included in the order was guidance for outdoor spa pools or jacuzzis.
Only one household/living unit may use a spa/hot tub, reservations must be taken in advance by the facility manager and masks must be worn when not in the water.
In addition, management must disinfect high touch surfaces like handrails, door handles, and restroom surfaces between each use.
Indoor space/pool facilities are still closed.
Mono County announced on Tuesday, March 2 that vaccination eligibility would be expanded to include those over the age of 50 and individuals 16 or older with underlying
conditions that pose increased risk for severe illness.
This is in addition to all folks who are eligible under tiers 1a and 1b of the state’s Covid-19 vaccine plan.
The order goes into effect on Saturday, March 6.
According to the press release, “this expansion is possible because Mono County has made good progress in the initial phases of the State’s Vaccine Plan.”
Mono County reports that 4,699 residents have received one dose of vaccine. 4,173 residents have received their second dose.
With an estimated population of about 14,000, more than 50% of county residents will be fully vaccinated by the end of March.
According to the LA Times vaccination tracker, Mono County remains at the top of list for vaccinating residents, administering approximately, 55,912.2 doses per 100,000 residents.
Alpine and Sierra counties are next on the list with 47,386.8 doses and 43,276.5 doses administered per 100,000 residents.
Inyo County is also making good progress with a rate of 32,347.2 doses administered for every 100,000 residents.
Inyo is averaging 32.5 new cases per 100,000 residents per day with a 10% positivity rate while Mono is averaging 5.2 new cases per 100,000 residents per day, with a 2.6% positivity rate.
If those numbers persist, Mono will be eligible to leave the purple tier by March 19 according to Mammoth Town Manager Dan Holler.
Nearly 9.5 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the state; 16.9% of the population has received at least one dose. That rate puts California in the middle of the pack for vaccine administration nationwide.
Reports from the state level indicate that California is on track to administer 3 million doses of vaccine per week.
The Republic of Palau, Alaska, American Samoa, New Mexico and South Dakota lead the pack for United States jurisdictions.
The country has topped 2 million doses administered per day.
Johnson and Johnson had its one-shot vaccine approved by the CDC on Saturday, February 27. The vaccine boasts 72% effectiveness at preventing Covid-19 altogether and an 86% effectiveness at preventing severe illness and death according to the FDA.
Dr. Anthony Fauci recommended that people take the vaccine if given the option, as it moves the overall population closer to herd immunity and reduces the possibility of further mutant strains.
Two governors, Greg Abbott of Texas and Tate Reeves of Mississippi have opted to eschew statewide regulations on masking while allowing businesses to reopen to 100% capacity.
“Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility,” Abbott said at a press conference, “It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed.”
Reeves announced Mississippi’s changes shortly after Abbott, stating that he would replace the orders with “recommendations.” Indoor arenas will remain at 50% occupancy, as will rules governing K-12 schools.
Both repeals of regulations go against current CDC recommendations.
Back to the local level
At the Inyo County Board of Supervisors meeting on March 2, Health and Human Services Director Marilyn Mann said that there is a decline in numbers and positive trajectory across the county.
Last week the case rate was 46/100,000. Mann anticipated that data would be in the 30s this week.
HHS Deputy Director Anna Scott said that there is no news yet as to when the County would receive Johnson & Johnson vaccine or how many doses would arrive in the first shipment.
Vons is administering about 40% of Inyo’s allocation although residents must go through the Health Dept. to get an appointment.
Supervisor Jeff Griffiths stated his belief that the demand curve will flip in about a month where suddenly there will be more vaccine available than demand for shots.
Supervisor Matt Kingsley noted that national chains are currently offering indoor dining in Ridgecrest.
Holly Mullanix, owner of the Bishop Twin Theatre, made an emotional public comment, her voice breaking. Mullanix said that what’s challenging for [business owners] is that Inyo County is seeming to pick-and-choos on enforcement. “It’s easier to control and manage smaller, locally-owned businesses so that’s what you’re doing versus policing the chains like Smart and Final or Vons.”
Inyo County Administrative Officer Clint Quilter acknowledged this was a fair comment.
Lynne Greer called in to back up Mullanix. She said that on Main Street on a Sunday, the gas stations are packed, and there’s tons of to-go food packed in styrofoam … “at this point it’s beyond ridiculous [the discrepancy and inconsistency in regulations and enforcement].”
And at Wednesday’s Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board meeting, Lynda Salcido said “ We thought we’d need to get to 7,000-8,000 shots to achieve the herd immunity, based on population, who’s eligible to get the shot… We’re already at 4,700 first shots with two big clinics upcoming on Saturday and Monday.”
Further, Dan Holler said that 1,000 residents have officially had Covid, implying that 2,000-plus have actually had it.