Alpine closes government offices due to coronavirus surge


All Alpine County government offices have been closed through the end of the month after the spread of the coronavirus prompted declaration of a public health emergency.

During the closure, Alpine County staff will still be available for emergency response, officials said on Wednesday morning.

The local health emergency was declared in Alpine County by Public Health Officer Richard Johnson on Tuesday morning.

“Schools in Alpine County have been closed due to a high percentage of exposures among students and staff, with only 60 percent of staff being completely vaccinated, and few students vaccinated,” Johnson said. “Many businesses have been forced to shut down or limit services due to lack of staff.”

Johnson said the supply of tests has been insufficient to meet the demand and is now virtually exhausted with no assurance that will be resolved.

The state emergency is good for seven days before it goes before the Alpine Board of Supervisors for either ratification or cancelation.

All Alpine public boards have been ordered to meet virtually effective Monday afternoon after a sudden surge of coronavirus cases.

In an order issued by Johnson, employers and businesses should consider conducting meetings remotely.

All county sponsored events are suspended, according to the order.

“The rapid emergency of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Omicron variant coupled with holidays gathering has led to unprecedented case rates in Alpine County,” Johnson said. “Instead of several cases every 1-2 weeks, we are now experiencing several new cases per day. (Alpine has) moved from being the only county in California considered ‘low risk’ into the highest risk category.”

Johnson said the high case rates are projected to impact area hospitals in the next few weeks.

On Sunday, it was announced that someone at Friday’s Create the Good Event in Woodfords tested positive for the coronavirus and had close contact with 15 other people. Johnson said they’re trying to contact those in attendance.

On Saturday, Mono County Health officials shut down in-person learning in the Mammoth Unified School District after 23 percent of the students and 19 percent of the staff are either sick or in quarantine.

The California National Guard has been activated to help Mono County conduct testing, which has become a bottleneck at Mammoth Hospital.

“At this stage of the pandemic, if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms you can almost assume you have the Omicron variant infection,” said Mono County Deputy Director of COVID Operations Jennifer Burrows. “For those experiencing mild-to-moderate symptoms, testing is not necessary as we seek to serve those most vulnerable. Instead we ask that you immediately isolate, and adhere to the current guidance to mitigate further spread.”

There’s no way to report home test results to medical authorities.

If a home test turns up positive, Carson City Health and Human Services says stay home for five days and then take a PCR test, which will be reported.

“The big takeaway is to stay home if you’re sick, whether you think you have COVID or something else,” Jessica Rapp said on Friday. “It is important to stay home to reduce the spread.”

Douglas County jumped from averaging 15 confirmed cases a day to 23 confirmed cases between Jan. 5 and Jan. 9. That’s up from an average of four new cases a day reported on Dec. 9.

Hospitalizations went from four to six, with one person in intensive care.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment