The World Turned Upside Down

Staff Writer



Eastern Sierra reels from impacts of COVID-19 

By Wendilyn Grasseschi

Times Reporter


Mammoth came face to face with the power of an invisible enemy this past week, as Mammoth Mountain Ski Area shut down the Mountain and June Mountain completely during a snowy, mid-season winter day.

Businesses, schools, gyms, stores, restaurants and breweries closed down almost as abruptly this week, faced with orders from the state and county to enforce “social distancing” – the new buzzword that residents were almost all coming to hate.

Residents, who were uprooted from their jobs, who were asked to leave before the airlines ceased running if they did not have a permanent home here, who were told to stay home and “shelter in place,” could not even find solace in gatherings or meeting or libations – all were shuttered.

Instead of encouraging people to come here, local tourism officials have now been asking them stay away, hoping to stave off flooding the tiny, rural hospitals of the Eastern Sierra. 

Kids came home to unprepared parents, who found out just this last day or so that they may well not see the inside of a schoolroom again until next fall.

The unprecedented upheaval came following the wild and inexorable spread of a tiny, spike-headed coronavirus, called COVID-19, which came out of the wilds to hit a human population that had never encountered the virus, and as such, had no immunity to it, sweeping the globe in fast-moving waves of illness and death and plunging counties and countries and whole continents into profound economic chaos and loss.

We don’t know where this is going, or how long it is going to last. We don’t know if we will be spared the deaths and illnesses spreading around the country – most likely we will not. According to local authorities, the virus is here, it has been spreading here, and we are no different from the rest of the country.

If so, that means it could be months before Mammoth and the Eastern Sierra returns to “normal,” if it indeed can. 

The Times has, and will continue, to try to stay on top of this fast-moving story. Because we are  a weekly-only print paper, we are asking that after you read this print issue, you go to our online paper at and our Facebook page, where we are working hard to keep you updated, at

Mono County and the Town of Mammoth Lakes are actively responding to the pandemic in a Unified Command Emergency Operational Center led by Mammoth Lakes Fire Chief Frank Frievalt, Town of Mammoth Lakes Manager Dan Holler, County Chief Administrative Officer Steve Barwick and County Health Officer Dr Tom Boo.  They have created a “one-stop-shopping” webpage of resources, information and sources, updated every day, multiple times a day. It is in both English and Spanish.

Here is the address:

Be safe. Be calm. Carry on.