COVID-19 Updates and Information
Updated 8/21/20 (Para español, haga clic aquí)
As of today, 8/21/2020, Mammoth Hospital’s status for admitting patients to the hospital is GREEN*
*GREEN – able to care for any patients requiring admission
YELLOW – nearing capacity, but still able to care for all patients requiring admission
RED – At or beyond capacity, with limited resources. May not be able to care for all patients requiring admission
Dr. Craig Burrows runs a few errands around Mammoth and shows us how easy it is to stay safe by taking a few important precautions
Mammoth Hospital’s clinics and outpatient services are open and safe. Watch the video below for a few things to know when paying us a visit.
Listen to our Chief Medical Officer, Craig Burrows, MD in his radio interview with local station, KMMT here.
A Letter of Thanks to our guests, second homeowners, and all those who love Mammoth Lakes and Mono County
Thank you for giving us a fighting chance.
We all find solace in the mountains—that’s why we’ve made our lives here, why we vacation here, and why we love it here. On behalf of our entire community, we are so incredibly grateful to you for staying home during the challenging first weeks of the COVID pandemic.
Because of your selflessness, and your committed regard for the greater good, you flattened the curve, and gave Mammoth Hospital the time needed to prepare. And prepare we did. We transformed our small critical access hospital into a facility ready to care for patients with COVID-19. Because you sheltered in place, physical distanced, maintained hygiene, and covered up, over the past seven weeks we were able accomplish all the following:
- The surge capacity of the hospital has increased from 17 to 40+ patients.
- All hospital personnel and visitors are required to wear facial coverings.
- ICU bed capacity has increased from 2 to 6 ventilated patients.
- There is daily screening and temperature checks for all hospital staff and visitors.
- The inventory of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is at 60 days on hand during a surge.
- There is staff housing available and patient overflow capacity.
- COVID positive and negative zones have been established.
- Patients can be tested and cared for at home.
- Rapid in-house testing is now in place.
- Work from home policies and processes limit the number of employees in the hospital.
- Labor pools and cross training of staff are in place to be surge-ready.
- A telemedicine program allows patients to access care from home.
We ask that you please continue to be patient with us. Understand that our greatest objective is avoiding a surge of patients. As Mono County reopens, things will look different. We will still need to physically distance. We will all need to be patient, slow down, and exercise kindness with strangers, neighbors, and the workers who serve us. We will all be required to wear face coverings while out in public. This is new territory for all of us, but we are adaptable—it is one of our greatest strengths as human beings. Please know as much as we want you back here with us for a beautiful Sierra summer, we are still following Governor Gavin Newsom’s directives, and will not move ahead of the state’s directives.
We stand at the ready, as excited as you are to get back to the places we know and love, and to know the mountains will be calling again. Take heart—we will be together again soon.
Wash. Cover. Distance. Be kind to one another.
Mammoth Hospital | Mono County Public Health | Mono County | Town of Mammoth Lakes | Mammoth Lakes Police Department | Mammoth Lakes Fire Department | Mono County Sheriff
How do we host gatherings safely in the age of COVID? Dr. Howell gives us tips in the latest video in our series below.
How do you do group activities in the era of COVID-19? Dr. Kyle Howell explains in the video below.
How do you recreate outside in the era of COVID-19? Dr. Kyle Howell explains in the video below.
Mammoth Hospital has updated information for the public regarding COVID-19 testing. Currently, there are two primary types of tests for COVID-19. One is a nasal swab test, and the other is a blood test.
Nasal Swab Testing is looking for an active COVID-19 infection using a molecular test known as Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR. The swab is inserted into the nose and is then sent to the lab to look for the presence of genetic material from the virus. The test is most likely be positive early in the progression of the illness. It is important to remember the test is not perfect, and if a person with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 tests negative, that person still needs to be treated as if the test were positive. This means isolation from others for at least 10 days, along with three days with no fever AND no other symptoms.
For patients who meet testing criteria, nasal swab testing is currently available at Mammoth Hospital. It also may be available through the Toiyabe Indian Health Project (Coleville/Walker and Bishop clinics) and at Northern Inyo Hospital in Bishop.
Antibody Tests are blood tests looking for the antibodies that create immunity after exposure to the virus. These antibodies start to appear about two weeks after infection, and may be helpful in determining who is no longer at risk to becoming infected in the future. It will be a very important test for the community in the weeks and months to come as the prevalence (the number of people infected) becomes greater.
Presently, the number of people infected in Mono County is believed to be very low, probably not more than 2-4% of the population. Even if 5% of the population were infected and now had antibodies, the problem with the currently available tests is they are not sensitive enough (the test will not identify everyone who has antibodies) or specific enough (the test will incorrectly identify patients to have antibodies when they do not).
To further explain this, consider a population with 10,000 people and a prevalence of 5%. That means 500 people actually have antibodies. The test being used has a sensitivity and a specificity of 95%, which means 475 out of 500 people will be correctly identified as having antibodies. However, 475 people will be INCORRECTLY identified as having antibodies. Thus, of the 950 people told they are immune, this is true for only HALF of them! What this means is half the people believed to be immune in fact have no protection and remain at risk of infection. So until the prevalence is higher, this test is not reliable or helpful.
Current antibody tests are either not reliable enough, or they are not FDA-approved. As a result, Mammoth Hospital does not recommend antibody testing at this time. As testing becomes more reliable and the indications for testing become better defined, this recommendation will surely change.
If you or a family member are sick, please call the Mono County COVID-19 response team nurse hotline at 211 or (760) 924-1830. A Registered Nurse is available 7 days/week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The nurse will advise you on if you are safe to stay home and isolate, or if you need to be seen by a healthcare professional at Mammoth Hospital. You will also be given resources on how to help keep you and your family safe.
Rapid in-house testing comes to Mammoth Hospital!
This is a huge deal for us, and we could not have done it without our laboratory team, who tirelessly worked to develop and validate our new rapid in-house test.
Here’s the skinny:
Q: How long does it take to get results?
A: Results are obtained in approximately one hour.
Q: How is the test performed?
A: The test is still performed using a nasal swab (yes, it’s really uncomfortable, as you can tell by Dr. Burrows’ face).
Q: Does this mean anyone can get tested?
A: You must still meet testing criteria as defined by Mammoth Hospital and Mono County Public Health. If you are symptomatic, or if you have been specifically referred by the Public Health Department for testing, you qualify for a test. Please contact Mono County Public Health’s nurse hotline at 211 or 760-924-1830.
Q: What about antibody testing?
A: We realize that this is big on everyone’s minds, but unfortunately we do not have antibody testing in Mono County, and we do not have an ETA for this test at this time.
In summation: Thank you, Mammoth Hospital team, for all your hard work on getting this rolling. We are an amazing team caring for an amazing community. Every small decision we make saves lives. We cannot overstate how much each of you have helped us crush the curve. Keep it up!
Distance. Wash. Cover.
When will things go back to normal?
This is the question on everyone’s mind. We, as Californians and as Mono County residents especially, have done such a good job at social distancing that we have actually been effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our community, and in our state as a whole. Our efforts have literally saved lives!
Now that we are prepared for what a surge in cases looks like, and are confident that our plans are solid, we can begin to peer into the future for what a return to “normal” might look like for our community.
Our leadership is working with Mono County Emergency Operations Command (EOC) to develop a plan for this. We know businesses and families are hurting from the economic losses this virus has caused, but we also know that we need to look at the curve closely to understand the timing, so that we don’t lose all the gains we have fought so hard to make.
In this short video, Drs. Kyle Howell and Craig Burrows explain why we need to ease social distancing restrictions gradually, so we don’t end up back at square one.
There is hope, and there will come a time when things start running again. But right now, we need to keep up the hard work, buy stock in sweatpants and Netflix, and keep crushing the curve. It’s working!
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
Thank you for the muffins. We need them when we don’t have time to stop and eat a meal.
Thank you for the coffee, which perks us up on long shifts.
Thank you for the fresh juice—it keeps our immune systems humming.
Thank you for the masks, which are so stylish that we playfully argue over our favorites. We have had so many donated that we have literally lost count. Because of you, we are able to give our patients masks to take home, so they can protect others.
Thank you for bringing your children to draw colorful chalk messages of encouragement and support outside our windows—they literally brought many of us to tears.
Thank you for donating. Your time, your money, your efforts. No matter how much or how little you have to give, it all makes a difference.
Thank you for emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can help us fulfill our mission: To promote the health and well-being of our residents and (when they return) guests.
In this time of so much uncertainty, there is one thing we are sure of—it is you, our volunteers, who are keeping us whole.
Every day, there is a new reminder of all there is to be thankful for.
#mammothsaysthanks is a way that each of us can recognize all we do for each other every day, whether you work at Mammoth Hospital and want to thank the sewing team for your new head cover, or whether you are in self-quarantine and want to thank your neighbor for leaving food on your doorstep.
You can use it to thank Sierra Dog Ventures for walking your dog because you can’t get home right now.
You can use it to thank Mammoth Mountain and Mammoth Mountain Community Foundation for running the PPE drive (don’t forget—their hours are M, W, F from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the ticket office in the Village!).
You can give a shout out to your friend who brought you a smoothie from Elixir Superfood & Juice.
You can thank Visit Mammoth for running the food bank that kept your refrigerator full this week.
You can thank Eastern Sierra Love (easternsierralove.com) for matching you with the donor who paid your electric bill so your family stayed warm during the recent snow.
There is so much goodness all around us. #mammothsaysthanks.
“You may feel like giving in. Don’t.”
We get it. It feels like we’ve been at this a long time. March lasted about 97 days, and April is forecast to last even longer. We’ve got snow, but we can’t ski. And as soon as we saw some daffodils poke their heads above the soil, the snow began to fall again.
It’s almost Easter. Our kids should be out collecting eggs filled with jellybeans. We miss hugging people. We miss the gym. We certainly don’t want to try our jeans on.
Mammoth Hospital’s staff stand ready to fight an unseen enemy. But instead of crashing through the gates, it lurks in homes whose residents are staying put. Our efforts are working. Every day that passes means one less day the virus spreads. But it’s not easy.
“You will feel discouraged. You should. This is normal in chaos,” writes Jonathan Smith, a lecturer in epidemiology at Yale University. In a letter to his neighbors, Smith reminds them to stay the course.
“This enemy that we are facing is very good at what it does… Stay strong and with solidarity knowing with absolute certainty that what you are doing is saving lives,” he writes. “You may feel like giving in. Don’t.”
It is human nature to make the assumption that, because our hospital is not overwhelmed, that we have won the war. That it is okay to stop by and see a friend we haven’t seen in weeks. We’ve all been thinking it. We’d be lying if we said we hadn’t. But the war continues, even though it appears we are succeeding in this first battle.
“You should perceive your entire [household] to function as a single individual unit,” writes Smith. “If one person puts themselves at risk, everyone in the unit is at risk. Seemingly small social chains get large and complex with alarming speed. If your son visits his girlfriend, and you later sneak over for coffee with a neighbor, your neighbor is now connected to the infected office worker that your son’s girlfriend’s mother shook hands with.”
Our community is tight-knit. We help each other out, always. We deliver meals when our friends have babies and go for dog walks together. Staying apart is one of the hardest things we’ve ever done.
“In contrast to hand-washing and other personal measures,” Smith writes, “social distancing measures are not about individuals, they are about societies working in unison… this unprecedented outbreak will not be overcome in one grand, sweeping gesture, but rather by the collection of individual choices our community makes in the coming months.”
In this time, we will learn to find joy in new ways, like joining in the Social Distancing Easter Egg Hunt sponsored by Mammoth Parks & Recreation, signing up for virtual date nights and tastings which support local restaurants, with “quarantine kitchen” Zoom meetings and FaceTime trivia nights.
We will wear face coverings when we visit the grocery store and, especially, the hospital. We do this not to protect ourselves, but to protect each other. We will stay informed about hospital testing numbers in our closest metropolitan areas, so that we are prepared for waves of infection that may be coming our way. We will vet our news sources. We will not let fear rule our minds—but we will stay vigilant.
We will show each other our love through the painful process of remaining separated.
Only by staying apart, together, can we do this. Stay strong, Mammoth.
Make your own mask in just one minute!
Thank you to the New York Times for the coverage of the challenges we face as a small mountain resort town.
Mammoth Hospital supports the use of masks by the general public. Watch the video below on effectively slowing the spread by using masks.
Mammoth Hospital supports the use of masks by the general public. This has been shown to slow the spread of COVID-19 due to the fact that the virus is present in many people who don’t show symptoms.
Simple masks that cover the mouth and nose may help prevent the spread of COVID-19. When you wear a mask, it helps you avoid transmitting the virus to surfaces, which could result in infecting others.
Masks need to be used correctly to be effective at stopping the virus. Users of masks should follow these instructions in order to avoid accidental mask to hand to surface contamination:
- Always wash your hands after touching your mask.
- Never touch the inside of your mask.
- When not in use, store your mask in a paper bag.
- Wash your hands after placing a mask on your face.
- When using a homemade mask, store it in a paper bag while not in use so it does not contaminate surfaces.
- Wash homemade cloth masks with hot water and soap daily to kill infectious material on the surface of the mask.
We strongly encourage the use of homemade cloth masks. Masks are in short supply, so whether you are given a mask or make your own, please take care of it!
Together, we can help to keep all of us safe!
Distance. Wash. Cover.
We express our heartfelt appreciation for all of the kind words, art, and notes of encouragement all over the sidewalks outside our hospital.
Thank you to the Anderson family, to Laurel, Aspen, and Sierra, and to countless others for covering our campus with love and positivity during this challenging time.
We are so grateful to all of you and to Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce for organizing this amazing endeavor.
We love you all and are in this together! For photos visit our Facebook page here.
Mono County Health Department and Mammoth Hospital
March 31, 2020 – The first death of a Mono County resident due to COVID-19 has been confirmed.
The death occurred on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. The patient was a male in his 60’s. In addition to being infected with COVID-19, he was known to have other chronic medical conditions. He presented to Mammoth Hospital in critical condition. He was then transferred to another facility for further management, but his condition continued to deteriorate, and he ultimately died due to multiple complications related to COVID-19.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the patient’s family and loved ones during this time of loss,” said Tom Parker, CEO of Mammoth Hospital. “This loss is deeply felt by our entire community. Now more than ever, each of us must do our part to prevent the spread of this virus.”
Both Mono County Director of Public Health Tom Boo, MD, and Mammoth Hospital Chief Medical Officer Craig Burrows, MD, said the death underscores the importance of protecting our community members during this ongoing pandemic.
Dr. Boo and Dr. Burrows emphasized the importance of all Mono and Inyo County residents in doing their part to slow the spread of the virus by continuing with all social distancing efforts and to adhere to the Stay At Home Order issued by Governor Newsom on Thursday, March 19, 2020.
Steps that everyone can take to slow the spread of the virus include: Being mindful of the critical importance for social / physical distance, wash your hands frequently, and cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.
Stay healthy. Stay safe. Love each other.
A quick note on elevation and COVID-19:
“At sea level, you are breathing 21% oxygen,” says Mammoth Hospital Chief Medical Officer, Craig Burrows. “At 8,000 feet, our altitude, you are breathing 15% oxygen, which is roughly 30% less. For people unaccustomed to our elevation, this difference is what people feel when they travel from Los Angeles to Mammoth on a good day, and why they may feel short of breath. When you are ill with a lung infection, the problem becomes more pronounced, and what you may have been able to contend with at sea level now becomes much more problematic. Many of these previously healthy patients now require supplemental oxygen both in the hospital as well as upon discharge until they are able to return to sea level.” Our small critical access hospital only has four ventilators, and we very much hope we don’t need them all at once.
A huge thank you to our community!
Thank you to our generous community for all of the donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with our Donation Drive! We have had a great outpouring of support. Our amazing sewing team has been willing to donate time to fabricate masks, shoe covers, and head covers. Right now our top three are masks, shoe covers, and head covers. We have received more than enough vacuum bags, so we are no longer needing these. If you have sewing-related questions, please contact Lily Olvera, who takes the sewing lead by email email@example.com.
Link to masks here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch…)
Links to shoe covers here: <https://dianarambles.com/category/diycraft/sewing/>
Link to head covers here: https://freepatterns4scrubhats.blogspot.com/…/classic-scrub…>
Also, we cannot thank you enough for your kindness towards our employees and medical staff over the last week, from shoveling our walkways, to personal notes of thanks and encouragement, your huge outpouring of support has been amazing and we are humbled to serve this great community!
Speaking of our great community, a huge thanks from us to Visit Mammoth for offering a food bank three days a week, which makes all the difference for our locals during this challenging time. Get over there Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 am – 12 pm and 3 – 5 pm at the Promenade on Main Street (previously known as the Luxury Outlet Mall) next to Black Velvet Coffee and Sun & Ski Sports. If you wish to donate money to the food bank, you can do so online via PayPal.
Here’s that link: https://www.visitmammoth.com/…/mammoth-lakes-opens-communit…
Remember to stay safe and to love each other.
Distance. Wash. Cover.
Watch Dr. Craig Burrows and Dr. Richard Koehler share some important messages on KRNV News 4 this evening on the unique challenges our hospital faces with the COVID-19 pandemic.
PRESS RELEASE: (Para español, haga clic aquí)
Mono County Health Department and Mammoth Hospital
More Positive Cases of COVID-19 in Mono County
March 26, 2020 – Mono County has received positive COVID-19 test results for two more people, and Tuolomne County has informed us of a person with a Merced address who acquired the infection in Mono County being treated in Tuolomne. Two of these three people are hospitalized and one is critically ill with respiratory failure. All are, or were recently, Mammoth area residents. This brings the total number of cases in Mono County to six (6). One case was linked to a known case and had been identified as a contact. Although the person in the Tuolomne hospital was living in Mammoth Lakes and acquired the infection here, it will be technically counted as a case in Merced or Tuolumne.
The Mono County Health Department has initiated contact tracing for each of these case-patients. People found to have been in close contact will be asked to quarantine themselves and monitor for symptoms.
While three new cases is alarming, it is also expected. Accelerating numbers of recognized and suspected infections demonstrate more clearly than ever that we are not immune from the epidemic affecting the rest of the world.
“We are somewhat reassured that the “Stay At Home” Order is in effect, but it is simply too soon to see any results,” says Tom Boo, Public Health Officer for Mono County. “We hope, and do anticipate, that new cases will come at a slower rate in the coming weeks.”
Dr. Boo further implores the community to continue, to double down in, practicing social, or as some are calling it, physical distancing.
“We face an extremely serious situation and fervently hope that all our efforts to promote distancing, from simple recommendations to the California “Stay At Home” Order to restrictions on hotels, motels, VRBOs and campgrounds, will reduce the impact on our community, especially elderly and medically vulnerable adults, who have higher rates of severe disease.”
Please be reminded that the number of positive tests in Mono County, as in the rest of the country, poorly reflects the extent of the virus’ spread because of overwhelmed laboratories. At the request of the state we will be doing less testing for the time being, not more. At this time testing will be largely limited to people requiring hospitalization. Therefore, the number of people who have severe disease, requiring hospitalization seems the best indicator to follow.
We do not know with any confidence the percentage of people with COVID-19 disease who develop severe disease, but the state health department and others are using a working estimate of 5-10%. That means that for every severe case we find there are probably 10-20 others we have not detected. The current number of confirmed cases requiring hospitalization in Mammoth Lakes and the surrounding area is four (4).
The doubling time for this virus appears to be between 4 and 6 days under normal circumstances. We hope that it will be longer with good social distancing. The California Department of Public Health believes that current measures will decrease transmission by 30-70%.
The pandemic is here and it poses an immediate threat to our community, especially vulnerable people and our hospitals. We are urgently trying to avoid replicating in California the terrible scenes from Italy and Wuhan City of hospitals unable to provide care to those who need it, and many deaths.
Every one of us has a responsibility to reduce the spread of this virus. Please comply with California’s order to “Stay At Home” except for essential activities.
Mono County Health Department and Mammoth Hospital
Third and Fourth Positive Cases of COVID-19 In Mono County
March 25,2020 – A positive COVID-19 test result was received late March 24 from a Mammoth area resident who is critically ill in Reno hospital. We transferred this patient a few days ago. This patient, who cannot be interviewed because of his/her condition has no known links to other cases. This individual potentially exposed a number of people in different settings and the Health Department has contacted and evaluated as many of these as possible, recommending 14-day self-quarantine and monitoring.
Subsequently, we received results from a fourth case, also a Mammoth area resident. This patient was mildly ill and was only tested on March 21 because of a potential workplace contact with our first case. This individual has been self-isolating with a significant other who also recently had a mild illness. We transferred another suspected patient to Reno the evening of March 24, and yet another suspected patient is hospitalized locally in stable condition. In these suspect cases tests have been submitted and are pending. At this time, we have two critically ill Mono County residents, one with confirmed and the other with suspected COVID-19 infection.
The accelerating numbers of recognized and suspected infections demonstrates more clearly than ever that we have an epidemic in the Mammoth area. Remember that for every case we diagnose there are probably 10-20 others in the community, especially with the inadequate testing situation in the United States. We implore the community to continue, to double down on, practicing social, or as some are calling it, “physical distancing.”
Mono County Health Officer, Tom Boo, MD said, “This is an extremely serious situation and we fervently hope that all our efforts to promote distancing, from simple recommendations to the California “Stay At Home” Order to restrictions on hotels, motels, VRBOs and campgrounds, will reduce the impact on our community, especially elderly and medically vulnerable adults, who have higher rates of severe disease.
If social distancing does not work, if we continue to see accelerating COVID-19 numbers in coming weeks, we anticipate potentially serious impacts on Mammoth Hospital, which has been working intensively for weeks to prepare for such possibility.”
Yesterday, March 24, in response to local reports of sick workers present in essential businesses serving the public , Dr. Tom Boo issued a Public Health Order prohibiting the presence of persons with illness in workplaces, with possible penalties including fines, forced closure of workplaces with quarantine orders for co-workers, and even imprisonment. It is an effort to reinforce our messages to stay home when you are sick. He said that reports from the public about sick people in public-facing jobs or from concerned co-workers will be investigated.
The pandemic is here, representing an immediate threat to our community, especially vulnerable people and our hospital’s ability to keep up with increased demand for medical care. Together, with the Unified Command Team (County, Town, Hospital), we are urgently trying to avoid replicating in California the terrible scenes from Italy and Wuhan City of hospitals unable to provide care to those who need it, and many deaths. Every one of us has a responsibility to reduce the spread of this virus. Please comply with California’s “Stay At Home” Order except for essential activities.
Please be reminded that the number of positive tests in Mono County as in the rest of the country, poorly reflects the extent of the virus’ spread because of overwhelmed laboratories. For the time being, testing will be largely limited to people requiring hospitalization.
Mammoth Hospital Chief Medical Officer, Craig Burrows and Nelida Garcia clear up some common misconceptions regarding testing in the video below:
The Importance of social distancing for our outdoor community – hear it from Wave Rave’s Steve Klassen and Mammoth Hospital nurse, Jason Lakey in the videos below: