Mono most likely headed to Red Tier on March 10

By: 
Wendilyn Grasseschi
Times Reporter

There is also good news on vaccines, in-person teaching and more

Mono County is making impressive progress in its fight against Covid-19, with rapidly dropping case counts that could put it in the Red Tier as soon as March 10, county officials said this week.

At the same time, the county continues to out-perform all of the 57 other counties in the rest of the state in the number of vaccinations it has administered, with 4,695 second doses (as of March 2) administered in a county of about 15,000 people. Again, as stated in previous reporting, health officials think herd immunity in the county can be reached at between 8,000 and 10,000 vaccines fully administered, meaning Mono County is nearly half-way to its own high-end goal.

The reason the county could be eligible for the Red Tier, which will allow a much-expanded opening of businesses such as some indoor dining, is because the county’s cases per 100,000 has dropped to about 5.1 percent. These improvements, which have to be sustained into March 10 (this is expected), will allow the county to move to the Red Tier.

Additionally, the county this week began administering first shots to a much-expanded list of individuals (see below for who is in this list and how to sign up), allowing younger people with some health issues to sign up (as well as other individuals who have been added to the list).

Also this week, the county public health department removed the 70 percent short-term lodging limits in the Town of Mammoth, allowing hotels, motels, short term rental condos and other short term rentals to operate more fully than at any time since last fall (with some remaining Covid mitigations still in place). For more details on the new order, go to https://monocovid19-monomammoth.hub.arcgis.com.

And also this week, the county health department announced it now believes it will have enough vaccines arriving, or already in hand, to continue to operate larger vaccine clinics. Last week, before the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was approved and before some other changes were made to the vaccine pipeline, Mono County Public Health Director Bryan Wheeler was not nearly so optimistic that the county could continue to operate the large clinics during the coming weeks and months.

“This week, I am much more optimistic than I was a few weeks ago,” he told the Mono County Board of Supervisors March 2. “There are 2,000 doses of Moderna in my freezer... and... we do anticipate more vaccine coming online.”

Especially exciting is the fact the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine does not need to be frozen, allowing it to be stored in a normal refrigeration system. This opens the option of places like Vons and other pharmacies storing the vaccine.

“We are talking to the hospital about offering it to them, and to the Vons pharmacy and others,” he said.

Also, as of last week, Mammoth Unified School District was allowed to partially re-open in-person teaching at the Kindergarten and Elementary schools with an expected, partial in-person re-opening of the Middle and High schools in mid-March (the Times will have a detailed story on the school reopening issue soon).

Here are more details on the new vaccine criteria from the county, which released this news on March 3.

“Effective Saturday, March 6, Mono County will expand immediate vaccination eligibility to include individuals aged 50 years or older, AND individuals aged 16 and older with certain underlying medical conditions that pose increased risk for severe illness related to Covid-19 as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” the county said.

This expansion is in addition to individuals currently in Phase 1A and 1B of the State’s Covid-19 vaccine plan.

All Mono County residents who want to be immunized need to pre-register for vaccination, regardless of whether you are immediately eligible. Second homeowners and visitors are currently not eligible to receive the vaccine in Mono County.

Mono County is vaccinating individuals 50 years or older (regardless of occupation), and individuals in the following employment categories: Healthcare; Emergency Services (police, fire, Search and Rescue; county and town public works staff); education and child care (must be a California licensed Child Care Provider); Food and agriculture (grocery store, restaurant and agriculture workers, as well as individuals involved in food distribution).

In addition to these categories, Mono County is vaccinating residents (16 years or older) who are at the very highest risk from Covid-19 because they have the following severe health conditions, as identified here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-....

Individuals with any underlying medical condition (including those conditions that are NOT on the current list) should consult with their healthcare providers about personal risk factors and circumstances to determine whether extra precautions are warranted.

HOW DO I GET VACCINATED?
• All Mono County residents who want to be immunized need to pre-register for vaccination at https://webapps.mono.ca.gov/covid19/vaccinate-mono-form/ regardless of whether you are immediately eligible.
• If you are unable to complete the vaccine questionnaire online or you have questions, please send an email to COVID19help@mono.ca.gov or call 760-924-1830 and be prepared to leave a short message. Once clinics are scheduled for your category, you will receive an invitation at the appointed time to register for your first and second vaccination clinic. The invitation will come from notify@quickbase.com. Please do not arrive at any clinic unless you have an appointment. Any “extra” vaccine at a given clinic will ONLY be offered to individuals pre-registered as next in line by Public Health.
• At the vaccination clinic, please be prepared to show proof of Mono County residence or employment. This includes, but is not limited to, the following: Driver’s license/Real ID; DMV or Post Office Change-Of-Address; employment paystub; note from employer; employee ID; any document that verifies you as a Mono County, full-time resident (second homeowners are currently not eligible to receive the vaccine in Mono County). In addition, a Public Health Nurse will be screening individuals with listed underlying medical conditions on site. A note from your healthcare provider describing an individual’s underlying medical condition is preferred, but not required.
• Where is the Vaccine information located? For updated Mono County COVID-19 vaccination information, community resources, a vaccine dashboard, immunization schedule, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), informative videos and more, please visit the Vaccinate Mono website at https://coronavirus.monocounty.ca.gov/pages/vaccinations or click on the syringe graphic on the homepage of the Mono County Covid-19 Portal at https://monocovid19-monomammoth.hub.arcgis.com

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