Marine base coronavirus outbreak prompts appeal

An Oct. 21 coronavirus outbreak at the U.S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center resulted in more than 173 cases being reported to the State of California, according to Mono County health officials.

According to an appeal submitted by the county, the Pickel Meadows outbreak accounts for 87 percent of the county’s cases over the following two weeks.

“The Marine base outbreak started with the arrival of over 1,500 Marines for training, some of whom had unrecognized COVID-19,” the health department said. “Most of the cases have occurred among these visiting trainees, who are restricted to the remote mountain base.”

Mono health officials said 13 cases have occurred among personnel stationed at the base and there have been three cases related to Marine family members.

“There is no evidence that this military outbreak has resulted in increased infections outside the center community,” health officials said. “The control measures undertaken by the Marine Corps seem to be working to contain the spread.”

Mono County Health Officer Dr. Tom Boo said the state seems receptive to the appeal.

“As we make this request to try to stay out of the purple tier, I am increasingly concerned that we are seeing more cases in Mono County that are not related to the Marine Corps outbreak,” Boo said.

During the first week of November, Mono County saw 15 confirmed cases, the most since July.

Three Mono County schools will close until after Thanksgiving break after the district experienced a coronavirus exposure at Antelope Elementary School.

Superintendent Heidi Torix said Thursday that Bridgeport Elementary and Coleville High School have been closed due to siblings attending the elementary.

“The health department will likely contact some families if they think you should have your child tested,” she said.

Torix said the schools will reopen to in-person instruction on Nov. 30.

She said that technology allowing students to continue their lessons and work.

Parents were told to refer to the online schedule followed at the beginning of the year.

“This is precautionary, so please do not rush to the assumption that your child has COVID,” she said. “We will get through this and bring you children back to school after the break.”

Mono County is in the moderate tier in California, but with the Marine cases, could be pushed into the highest tier. Health officials expect to hear from the state next week.

The county has had 352 positive cases since the start of the coronavirus outbreak and two deaths.

Despite a recent spike in cases in Alpine County, it remains one of only eight counties in California at the lowest tier.

Alpine has had 26 cases since the beginning of the outbreak, mostly in the week between Oct. 29 and Nov. 6.


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