Mariposa County restricts short-term lodging to keep COVID-19 out of community

MARIPOSA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Mariposa is now the only county in Central California with no confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one of only five counties in California.

County Health Officer Dr. Eric Sergienko believes it's largely because the area has had strong compliance with the state's stay at home order, but says limited access to testing may also be a factor.

He says, "There may be one or two cases that exist in the county that we have not been able to determine through our testing, but I'm confident we don't have community transmission like you've seen in Stanislaus or Tulare counties."

Business owners we spoke with say they're thankful for the health of their community, but the pandemic is taking a tremendous toll on their tourist-based economy.

"This is a huge shock to us because we were not prepared for anything like this. We have fires that come through, government shutdowns that have shut down the road, mudslides, bad weather. This is something we had no clue could ever happen," says 1850 Restaurant owner Jack Wackerman.

Nearby, Yosemite National Park is closed, and officials are urging only essential travel. Sheriff Doug Binnewies says most people are following the rules, but some residents raised concerns about people still staying in places like vacation rentals and hotels.

He says, "They were concerned about visitors bringing the COVID-19 disease into Mariposa County and affecting our communities."

So on April 3, the county's health officer issued an order that essentially says short-term lodging facilities can only be used for specific reasons, including to house essential workers, those who need to quarantine, and for emergency sheltering, such as fire evacuees.

Sheriff Binnewies says, "At this time, we haven't had to take a strong enforcement posture because our community has been so responsive, with the orders to date. We're hoping that our lodging industry will also take such a position and cooperate."

You can read the full short term lodging order here: http://www.mariposacounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/84046/Short-Term-Lodging?bidId=

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