One Year of Covid - Looking Back at How We Got Here

Staff Writer

Ed. note: One year ago tomorrow, the United States declared a state of emergency due to a newly emerged ‘novel’ coronavirus, soon to be called Covid-19.
One year ago tomorrow, on Friday, March 13, Mammoth Unified School District sent its teachers and students home for ‘a two week break’ due to the state and national shutdown.
A week later, every local hotel and motel and cabin and condo in the county had told guests they had to leave. Restaurants and bars and almost every other business put up homemade signs, penciling in the words ‘Temporarily Closed’ and shut their doors. Mammoth Mountain closed down and the town went quiet too, a ghostly mirror of its former, bustling, self.
By the end of the next week, the long, snowy line of U.S. 395 went eerily quiet.
A year later, Mono County, like the rest of the country and world, will never be the same. Some local, beloved businesses have closed forever, some local, beloved families have been displaced forever; four of our beloved community members are gone forever after the virus overcame them. And even as we write this, a year later, the county finds itself still in the dreaded Purple Tier, where most businesses still cannot open to any meaningful degree.
In some ways, though, after a year of living with this virus, the current crazy situation now seems more ‘normal’ than what normal used to be, one long year ago.
To remember what that was, here is the first in a series of articles we will run this month, looking back from the first day the virus was mentioned in the Times and moving forward in time. We have taken what you are about to read from the first few paragraphs of those stories and are running them in chronological order.

On Jan. 31, 2020 we wrote our first story on what was going to soon be called Covid-19; “Coronavirus spreads to California”
With two cases of the new coronavirus now confirmed in Southern California just within the past week, the Eastern Sierra’s status as a resort destination for many Southern California and international travelers inevitably leads to questions.

Is the Eastern Sierra at risk and if so, how much risk? What should or can locals do about it?

So far, the answers to the questions are at least a bit reassuring – but that could change.

“There is no evidence of person-to-person transmission occurring in the United States at this point, so while the situation merits a serious response, the current risk to the public remains low,” said Dr. Thomas Boo, Mono County’s public health officer. That said, there are so many unknowns, this illness must be taken seriously, he said. “This is an extremely dynamic, fluid, situation which is changing daily,” he said.

As reported, he said, China is experiencing an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a previously unknown coronavirus, now called 2019-nCoV. The outbreak is spreading rapidly in China and has spread beyond its borders to at least twelve other countries, including the United States.

Over the weekend, the first two cases in California and a case in Arizona were confirmed, for a total of five U.S. cases at this time. As of Jan. 27, the Chinese government reported over 4,500 cases and over 100 deaths, although some experts believe the actual total is much higher, Boo said.”...

On March 5, 2020, we wrote our second story on Covid-19; “New coronavirus reached California; still no cases in Eastern Sierra”
This was the week the new coronavirus came home to California, with a first, and then a second fatality in the state announced Wednesday, before the Times went to press. Other cases in the state were announced as well, including in Placer, Los Angeles, Solano and other California counties.

It begs the question; what exactly is the impact to the Eastern Sierra and what should residents do about the virus, now called the Covid-19 virus. How worried, in other words, should county residents be?

Dr. Thomas Boo is the Mono County Public Health Information Officer and he’s been in meeting after meeting, state and national forum after forum over the past few weeks, trying to keep on top of the fast-moving Covid-19 situation.

In short, it’s time to prepare, but not to freak out, he said. The main reasons not to worry is the disease, while it can be deadly, overwhelmingly creates mostly mild symptoms in most people.

“Most people who contract Covid-19, have mild disease,” he said. “Severe illness seems uncommon in children, and no deaths have been reported in children under nine years old.”
That said, the older people are, or the more underlying health issues they have, the more deadly or dangerous the virus can be. “In some cases, the infection can lead to serious illness or death, particularly in older people with other health conditions,” he said. “Covid-19 primarily causes respiratory symptoms, fever, cough and fatigue, and may progress to pneumonia” in some cases.

That said, this is a serious disease and health officials expect to see an increase in the number of people who catch the virus in “community settings,” or in situations where the virus origins cannot be traced to travel to already affected areas, etc. ...

For the rest of this story, pick up this week's issue of the paper in newsstands, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking on the link above on this page.