Update #122
COVID-19 Event
December 13, 2020 - 1 pm
City Adjusts Balance Due to Greater Public Health Risk

Updated - How the Current State Orders Apply in Big Bear

City Receives Clarification That Vacation Rentals Are Treated Like Hotels and Other Lodging Facilities

City Enforcement Approach Remains Unchanged, Mirrors Others' Enforcement Approaches

Statement from Mayor Herrick

More New Cases in Big Bear

Hospitalizations Continue to Increase in San Bernardino County

Southern California ICU Availability Now at 5.3%

Respect Each Other's Fears and Opinions

PLEASE Take All Steps to Keep Yourself, Your Family, and Your Community SAFE

Next City Testing Event Set for December 15
The City of Big Bear Lake continues to work hard to ensure that the residents, second home owners, investors, businesses, and visitors in our community have the correct information about the status of COVID-19 in Big Bear Lake and the City's response to the COVID-19 event.

This email newsletter is the official guidance from the City of Big Bear Lake, and the City appreciates everyone's adherence to the guidance outlined herein. This email newsletter also serves as the City's official press release regarding the City's COVID-19 response, and press inquiries may be directed to City Manager Frank Rush at 909-866-5832 or via email.
The City issues these COVID-19 updates weekly on Tuesdays, and also as otherwise warranted as significant or new information emerges. To be sure you are receiving the latest and most accurate information, please sign up for this email newsletter by clicking here . PLEASE share this email newsletter with anyone and everyone, as we want to reach as many people as possible with this information. Thank you!
Throughout the COVID-19 event, the City has purposely and deliberately worked to achieve the right balance among  a) keeping our community safe,  b) promoting the success of our local businesses
c) maintaining community cohesion in an especially divisive and challenging time, and 
d) enabling our community to eventually emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic poised for future success. This balance has adjusted in a subtle manner from time to time based on the actual COVID-19 experience in Big Bear and San Bernardino County, and has intentionally shifted over the past week - appropriately toward a more cautious approach to keep our community safe and ensure adequate hospital capacity.

The City's position throughout the COVID-19 event has been that local case numbers and County hospitalization data are the most important data to inform the City's response. For most of the COVID-19 event, Big Bear was fortunate to experience a relatively low incidence of COVID-19, and San Bernardino County hospitals maintained adequate capacity. That is not the case now, as Big Bear has experienced similar case levels as the rest of California in recent weeks, and the San Bernardino County hospital system is now at risk of being overwhelmed.

The situation is clearly more serious now than at any time in the last 9 months. On May 21, because there were very few local cases and because there was abundant hospital capacity at that time, the City publicly indicated that it would not enforce the State's orders. That lasted for only two days, thankfully, before the State adjusted its approach, and the City has been consistent with the State's orders since May 23.  To put this in perspective, on May 21, Big Bear had a grand total of 9 cumulative cases, with only 1 active case at that time, and there were 210 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients hospitalized in San Bernardino County hospitals.  As of today, Big Bear is up to 475 cumulative cases, with as many as 80 currently active cases (estimated), while there are now 1,322 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 in our County

As such, the City expects EVERYONE in our community to be diligent and do your part to help discourage further spread and prevent our County hospital system from being overwhelmed. The person in need of an ICU bed may ultimately be you, your family member, or a close friend, and it's imperative that our County maintains adequate capacity to treat those in need.
The State's current orders build on previous orders, are sometimes adjusted in subtle ways, and can be difficult to determine exactly how they apply in Big Bear. The City has worked hard throughout the COVID-19 event to explain how the various restrictions apply in OUR community, and the latest orders mean the following for Big Bear:

  • interacting with others who are not part of your immediate household is prohibited, unless you are participating in the permitted activities outlined in the Governor's new order (and indicated below), AND you implement appropriate face covering, physical distancing, and personal hygiene practices,

  • individuals are not prohibited from moving around the community, as long as they are traveling to or from or participating in the permitted activities outlined below,

  • outdoor recreational activities are permitted, including skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snow tubing, hiking, running, biking, walking, and visiting the lakeshore and other parks,

  • Big Bear Mountain Resorts and other commercial snow play areas may operate,

  • grocery stores may remain open, but are limited to 35% capacity and must have an employee stationed at the entrance to ensure that entry is limited,

  • all other retail stores may remain open, but are limited to 20% capacity and must have an employee stationed at the entrance to ensure that entry is limited,

  • restaurants may operate for take-out and delivery only,

  • hair, beauty, and nail salons, and other personal care services must close,

  • the bowling alley, other indoor entertainment centers, and bars / nightclubs must close,

  • churches and other places of worship are limited to outdoor or online worship only,

  • the zoo has closed,

  • traditional hotels and lodging facilities may only operate if housing essential workers,

  • vacation rentals may only operate if housing essential workers,

  • second homes may be occupied, but only by members of the same immediate household,

  • any visitors originating from outside California, and not traveling for essential business purposes, must quarantine for 14 days in their hotel, lodging facility, or vacation rental.

These new restrictions are effective in Big Bear at least through December 28. Please be responsible, and do your part!
State orders did not prohibit vacation rentals when initially issued on December 3 and December 6, however, these orders were just recently clarified. The State has now indicated that vacation rentals are subject to the same orders as traditional hotels and lodging facilities, and may only operate if housing essential workers.
Throughout the COVID-19 event, the City has maintained a consistent enforcement approach, and continues to utilize that same approach. The City's enforcement approach has relied on, and will continue to rely on engagement, education, and cooperation with the business community to ensure safe business practices and promote compliance with applicable State orders. The City's approach is not punitive, but rather cooperative, and this approach mirrors the approach taken by San Bernardino County and many other communities. Based on observations around the State, we believe this approach is also consistent with the State's approach.

The City recognizes the importance of our business community on the overall quality of life in our community, and the City values its partnership with our business community. This spirit of partnership extends to all business sectors, including retail, restaurants, services, hotels and lodging, the vacation rental industry, the recreation industry, and the ski industry. City staff have previously, and continue efforts to visit ALL City businesses to engage, educate, and cooperate on approaches to keep our community safe.

ALL businesses should do their part to keep our community safe, and expedite our return to normal!
The fog of war is a common description that soldiers and others describe before, during, and after a battle. Right now there is a fog of mistrust that has descended in which we seem to have lost the love for our neighbors. Using the metaphor of war, our battles are on many fronts and for each person the battle, on the surface, seems to be very different. Over the past year I’ve personally spoken to thousands of people and the common thread is the fear of loss.  And make no mistake, the fear is real because the potential for loss is very real: loss of life, loss of loved ones, jobs, businesses, homes, freedom, or the quiet enjoyment of our neighborhoods.  
I promise to continue to look for, find and implement solutions to our complex local and state issues. We’ve literally built bridges, opened a brand new beautiful zoo, honored an icon, cut new trails and paths, fixed our leaky water system, improved the functionality and look of our roads, launched the water replenish initiative, successfully fought forest fires and combined firefighting, paramedic and ambulance services while being focused on keeping the cost of living affordable.
I can’t predict the future but I understand that nothing lasts forever and this too, COVID-19, shall pass. So let's do what we can personally do to lift the fog and get back to loving our neighborhoods and our neighbors even if we don’t always agree on every single issue.  
Merry Christmas - Happy Hanukkah - Happy Holidays!

Mayor Rick Herrick   
According to the latest data from San Bernardino County, there have now been a cumulative total of 475 confirmed COVID-19 cases since mid-March. Of this total, there have been 169 cases in the City of Big Bear Lake, 257 cases in Big Bear City, 43 cases in Sugarloaf, and 6 cases in Fawnskin.
The City receives Big Bear-specific information from San Bernardino County contact tracers, however, this data is not updated on weekends. Based on the most recent report, we estimate up to 80 active cases in Big Bear at this time. (Updated data will be included in the next City COVID-19 update.) Sadly, there has been 1 confirmed death attributed to COVID-19 in Big Bear.
Because any COVID-19 patients from the Big Bear Valley would likely be treated by other, larger hospitals in San Bernardino County, City officials continue to closely monitor hospitalization data in the entire County.

According to the latest data, there are currently 1,322 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients hospitalized in San Bernardino County. Just six weeks ago, there were 297 individuals hospitalized in our County - a 345% increase.

According to the latest data, there are now a total of 258 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, and there were 69 ICU patients just five weeks ago. There are currently only 62 intensive care beds available in our County.

The continued increase in hospitalizations, both in San Bernardino County and throughout Southern California, continues to be State, County, and City officials' top concern.
The State is currently reporting ICU availability of 5.3% in the Southern California Region, and this indicator continues to dip further below the 15% criteria that triggered the current State orders in San Bernardino County and Big Bear.

The State's current orders will be in place at least through December 28. We remain hopeful that ICU availability will increase to a level higher than 15% within the next couple of weeks, however, the data is not currently trending in the right direction and it is likely the current State orders will be extended into January.
Every aspect of the COVID-19 event has been difficult for EVERYONE! Please be reminded that YOU are not the only person impacted by these challenging times, and EVERYONE is struggling in some way.

With the latest restrictions now in effect, tensions are likely to escalate even more, particularly given the long road we've all travelled together this year and with the holidays approaching. As you think about your own situation, please put yourself in the shoes of others:

  • consider the elderly person or individual with a compromised immune system who is truly fearful for their health and safety,

  • consider the struggles of those who have a family member in the hospital or have lost someone they cared about deeply,

  • consider the fatigue of all of those in health care working tirelessly to help others,

  • consider the business owner worried about losing everything he or she has worked their entire life to build,

  • consider the individual dependent on his / her job to feed their family, pay the mortgage or rent, and keep the heat on,

  • consider the mental health impacts of the disease, the restrictions, and the isolation, and how your family and friends may be struggling deep inside without showing it to anyone else,

  • consider those second home owners spending more time in our community, who care deeply about our community and are simply seeking the same things we're all seeking in Big Bear,

  • consider those respectful visitors who are simply seeking to spend time in our community and get through this mess in the same way we're all trying to get through it,

  • consider all of the elected leaders, and Federal, State, and local employees working many long hours to address something no one has ever experienced in any of our lifetimes, and

  • most importantly, BE THANKFUL for what you do have, and your ability to control your own destiny by taking appropriate precautions for your personal situation.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, and despite the new darkness for the next few weeks, that light will get brighter. The light will always overcome the darkness!
Now more than ever, it is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL for EVERYONE to do everything you can to keep yourself, your family, and your community SAFE!

PLEASE do your part, for all of us:

  • if you are feeling sick, stay at home, isolate yourself from everyone, and get tested as soon as possible,

  • if you are especially vulnerable or fearful of becoming sick, please take appropriate precautions for your circumstances, including staying at home,

  • KEEP TO YOUR OWN HOUSEHOLD GROUP, and do not mix with other households,

  • WEAR A FACE COVERING whenever you are indoors at a local business, and also if you are within 6 feet of others in an outdoor setting,

  • maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others whenever possible, and

  • practice good personal hygiene - wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.

All of these steps are EASY and are simply COMMON-SENSE! There's really no excuse for anyone to not take the precautions indicated above, and your diligence may make the difference for others!
The City and County continue to partner to offer Big Bear testing events, and the next testing event is scheduled for Tuesday, December 15 at City Hall. The appointment portal is open now, and can be accessed by clicking here.

San Bernardino County continues to offer free COVID-19 testing at numerous locations off the mountain, and a complete list of testing sites and dates is available here. The City and the County encourage EVERYONE to get tested, regardless of whether or not you have symptoms, and to get tested REPEATEDLY.

Due to the inability of Abbott Laboratories to deliver COVID-19 test kits and a testing device, as promised in August, the City has terminated its agreement with Bear Mountain Family Medicine Urgent Care for rapid testing. Both the City and Bear Mountain Family Medicine Urgent Care are extremely disappointed in Abbott Laboratories, however, testing availability has expanded significantly in the Big Bear Valley since August. Anyone in need of a COVID-19 test should be able to secure a test at any number of locations, both in the Big Bear Valley and elsewhere. Many private doctors have access to testing, and Bear Valley Community Hospital continues to provide regular testing. Local testing is also available at CVS on Big Bear Boulevard.
Stay Informed!
Sign up for City of BBL Updates,
Visit Our Other Digital Platforms
The City of Big Bear Lake strives to keep our residents, property owners, investors, businesses, and visitors well-informed about the City's issues and initiatives - including the COVID-19 event - with an emphasis on information specific to Big Bear Lake and the entire Big Bear Valley.
The easiest way to stay-informed is to sign up for the City's email newsletter and other updates. It's easy to sign up - simply visit the City's website and click on "Text & Email Notifications" in the top center of the homepage. Simply click on the link, enter your name and email address, and you're all set. Signing up will ensure that you receive periodic updates about COVID-19 in Big Bear Lake, the City's new monthly newsletter - Elevation 6752', and other special communications from the City of Big Bear Lake for emergency situations, special events, and more.
In addition to the City's email updates, you can also get the latest information from the City of Big Bear Lake via the following digital platforms:
  • Visit our website by clicking here

  • "Like" us on Facebook - City of Big Bear Lake
  • Follow us on Twitter - @CityofBBL
  • Follow us on Instagram - @citybigbearlake
  • Sign up for text message alerts by clicking here .
Please help us spread the word, and share the City's digital communications platforms with your family, friends, other residents, property owners, frequent visitors, or anyone else who is interested in Big Bear Lake. Thank you!
Frank A. Rush, Jr., City Manager
City of Big Bear Lake
39707 Big Bear Blvd. PO Box 10000, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Phone: (909) 866-5831 | Fax: (909) 866-5491