White Pine Public Health Officer David Byun, DO, issued a mandate that went into effect immediately on March 10.  

The mandate states all individuals with respiratory symptoms shall remain home and avoid public places until symptoms resolve unless seeking medical care.  The symptoms of COVID-19 include but are not limited to runny nose, sinus congestions, sore throat, chest congestion, acute cough, fever and chills.  

The mandate states in the light of the novel beta coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of the Public Health of White Pine County is issuing a decree to all members of the public within the borders of White Pine County.

District Attorney Mike Wheable, explained the power and authority Byun has as the White Pine County Public Officer by Nevada Law and County Ordinance to prepare and protect citizens from infectious diseases. Nevada Revised Statute Chapter 439 outlines the measures and enforcement. 

“Byun can issue mandates, orders, require quarantine, and forward violations of his orders and regulations to the sheriff and my office for enforcement which may include civil penalties and criminal prosecution.  It’s important to understand the nature of preventing and slowing the spread of this virus, so as not to over burden our local hospital facilities and resources.” 

Institutions with mass congregation such as churches, schools, senior center, etc. shall politely turn away individuals with respiratory symptoms and encourage them to remain home unless seeking medical care. 

Businesses and public institutions shall make a good faith effort to provide hand sanitizers upon entrance to the establishment. If hand sanitizer is not available due to scarcity, then reminders of any form, such as a posted sign encouraging hand washing may be implemented.

All individuals shall perform preventative measures. Wash hands often, for at least 20 seconds, or with a 60 percent alcohol[based hand sanitizer, especially after using the restroom, before eating, after touching face in any manner including blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. 

The mandate also suggests avoiding touching your face, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home when you are sick unless seeking medical care. Cough and sneeze in elbow or tissue then wash hands.  Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.  

There is no vaccine at this time, so prevention of an outbreak only works if everyone is participating. 

The CDC upgraded COVID-19 to a pandemic state on Wednesday, March 11. It’s not recommended to wear a facemask to protect yourself from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19 according to the CDC.  Facemasks should only be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-10 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings.  

Matt Walker, chief executive officer for William Bee Ririe hospital, said the hospital has a plan in place for testing and quarantine. “If a person feels they need to go to the hospital, it is suggested to call ahead so the staff can place a make on the person and bring them into the facility, keeping them separated from the general public.” 

Daily meetings are held with health officials locally, statewide and nationally to discuss and be updated on coronavirus issues that are changing daily.  

Wheable said, “Our office has prioritized the enforcement of Byun’s regulations and I encourage all members of our community to keep informed, practice patience and understanding in following any directive that Dr. Byun issues.”