Update #126
COVID-19 Event
January 5, 2021 - 5:15 pm
Currently 53 Active Cases in Big Bear Valley

Actual San Bernardino County ICU Availability at 7.5%

Bear Valley Community Hospital Still Experiencing Difficulty Transferring Patients Out

Smaller Percentage of Big Bear Valley Residents Have Contracted COVID-19 Than Mammoth Lakes and South Tahoe Residents

Bear Valley Resident Suspected of Bringing COVID-19 Variant to Our Community

City Seeking to Host Vaccination Events When Available

Additional Big Bear Testing Events Scheduled, Will Accommodate More Individuals

City, Visit Big Bear Working To Address Day-Visitor Impacts

City Staff Actively Enforcing Vacation Rental Restrictions

PLEASE Do All The Right Things to Keep Our Community Safe!
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!
According to the latest data from San Bernardino County, there have now been a cumulative total of 709 confirmed COVID-19 cases since mid-March. Of this total, there have been 239 cases in the City of Big Bear Lake, 393 cases in Big Bear City, 68 cases in Sugarloaf, and 9 cases in Fawnskin.
The City receives Big Bear-specific information from San Bernardino County contact tracers. The most recent report indicates that 656 individuals have recovered, and that there are currently a total of 53 active cases. Official County records indicate 1 confirmed death attributed to COVID-19 in Big Bear.

With an estimated population of 18,941 people in the Big Bear Valley, and 53 currently active cases, approximately 1 in every 357 residents in our community are currently infected. 
The State continues to report "adjusted" ICU availability of 0% in the Southern California Region, and these adjusted numbers have been at 0% since December 16. Because this metric remains at 0%, and is not forecast to improve in the near future, the State has extended its current restrictions for the Southern California region for at least another week, and likely longer.

The State applies an adjustment factor to the actual ICU availability in each region that is a function of the percentage of ICU patients receiving care for COVID-19 compared to ICU patients receiving care for other ailments. This adjustment factor is applied when more than 30% of ICU patients are receiving care for COVID-19, and has had the effect of pushing the overall "adjusted ICU availability" down to 0% in the Southern California region in recent weeks.

As of January 4, the actual ICU availability in San Bernardino County hospitals is 7.5%, which means there are still a limited number of staffed adult ICU beds available. As of January 4, the State is reporting a total of 58 adult ICU beds available in San Bernardino County.
Due to crowded hospital conditions all over Southern California, it continues to be more difficult for Bear Valley Community Hospital to transfer patients that need a higher level of care out to larger hospitals in our region. As a result, Bear Valley Community Hospital has been admitting and treating a limited number of COVID-19 patients here locally in recent weeks.

Hospital, County, and City officials continue to be concerned about the decreasing capacity in County hospitals. Now more than ever, we need EVERYONE to do your part to be safe, take all appropriate precautions, and help ensure that adequate hospital capacity is available for those in need. It may be you, your family member, your friend, or your neighbor that is in need - perhaps for a COVID-19 case or any other serious illness or injury.
Because of the many similarities, the Big Bear Valley is often compared to Mammoth Lakes and South Tahoe. All three communities are mountain / ski resort communities, all three have similar environmental characteristics, demographics, and development patterns, all three are relatively small communities, and all three are somewhat remote from larger population centers in California.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in mid-March (through yesterday, January 4), the percentage of the permanent population that has contracted COVID-19 in each community is as follows:

Big Bear Valley - 3.55% of the permanent population has contracted COVID-19 since mid-March,

Mammoth Lakes - 6.25% of the permanent population has contracted COVID-19 since mid-March, and

South Tahoe - 5.08% of the permanent population has contracted COVID-19 since mid-March.

Over just the past 2 weeks (through yesterday, January 4), the percentage of the permanent population that has contracted COVID-19 in each community is as follows:

Big Bear Valley - 0.46% of the permanent population has contracted COVID-19 in the last two weeks,

Mammoth Lakes - 1.52% of the permanent population has contracted COVID-19 in the last two weeks, and

South Tahoe - 0.48% of the permanent population has contracted COVID-19 in the last two weeks.

It's also worth noting that a smaller percentage of Big Bear Valley residents have contracted COVID-19 than San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, and the State of California. The percentages for each, since the COVID-19 pandemic began in mid-March (through yesterday, January 4) is as follows:

San Bernardino County - 9.5% of the permanent population has contracted COVID-19 since mid-March,

Los Angeles County - 8.2% of the permanent population has contracted COVID-19 since mid-March, and

State of California - 6.1% of the permanent population has contracted COVID-19 since mid-March.
San Bernardino public health officials have notified the City that the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19, originally discovered in England, was recently identified in COVID-19 patients from Big Bear Lake. County officials believe that the variant was brought to the Big Bear Valley by a local resident who visited England in early December, returned to the Big Bear Valley, and then spread the disease to other local residents. All infected individuals quarantined appropriately after learning they had contracted COVID-19.

Public health experts believe that the B.1.1.7 variant is more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19, however, they also believe that it is no more dangerous than the original strain, and that forthcoming vaccines will be effective against the new strain.
San Bernardino County officials have been a great partner for the City throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and City officials continue to work closely with County officials on various issues.

The specific timeline for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to the general public is still somewhat uncertain, however, City officials are working to host mass vaccination events in Big Bear Lake when the vaccine is more widely available in our county. Thus far, local health professionals and first responders have received the vaccine, and we expect more local groups to receive the vaccine in January.

More details will be included in future City COVID-19 updates as they become available. To learn more about San Bernardino County's vaccination efforts, please click here .
The City continues to partner with San Bernardino County, and has scheduled four new testing events at City Hall:

  • Thursday, January 21,

  • Thursday, January 28,

  • Tuesday, February 9, and

  • Tuesday, February 23.

Each of these testing events will be expanded to 6 hours, and will operate from 9 am to 3 pm. The expanded testing hours will enable us to conduct approximately 500 tests each day.

Appointments are recommended, and the appointment portal is expected to open a few days prior to each testing event. Information about all County testing sites is available here, and Big Bear appointments can be made at the same website.
In an effort to provide a healthy outlet (mental health and physical health) for Californians living with significant restrictions, Governor Newsom has specifically allowed ski areas to operate and has specifically allowed snow play activities in Southern California. Due to COVID-19 fatigue by everyone, the recent holidays, and the recent snow, the City experienced significant day-visitation this past weekend. Traffic was heavy, many families were engaging in snow play activities, and Big Bear Mountain Resorts operated at reduced capacity. Unfortunately, some of our day visitors engaging in snow play were not as respectful as we'd like, and were trespassing on private property and left their trash behind.

The City is very concerned about these issues, and has been actively working with Visit Big Bear and the US Forest Service to provide additional trash dumpsters and portable toilets in heavily visited areas for several months. Additionally, in response to last weekend's impacts, all three partners, along with the Municipal Water District (lake management) are actively utilizing staff and contract labor to complete a comprehensive litter removal effort in and around Big Bear Lake. Additionally, the City is working on plans to deploy dedicated law enforcement officers and City staff to be stationed at high usage areas, including Boulder Bay Park, Aspen Glen, The Village, and Stanfield Cutoff during periods of peak day visitation. We expect to be much better prepared for these impacts this coming weekend and beyond.
City staff have been actively enforcing vacation rental restrictions in Big Bear Lake (in the City limits only), and have issued numerous citations ranging from $250 to $1000 over the past two weeks. Additionally, several groups that were mixing households - in violation of the Governor's order and the City's emphasis - were evicted from their stays in Big Bear Lake. Because of these efforts, there have been very few noise / party / behavioral issues associated with vacation rentals over the past two weeks, and we'll continue to work hard on these issues.

As a reminder to everyone, the City continues to focus its enforcement efforts on vacation rental units that are occupied by multiple households and/or are engaged in unsafe, irresponsible, and disrespectful behavior.

The City will not take punitive enforcement action against vacation rentals that abide by the following requirements

a) limit occupancy to members of the same household

b) verify compliance with the same household requirement during an in-person check-in process, 

c) perform cleanings in compliance with recommended COVID-19 cleaning practices

d) do not exceed 2 vehicles at the unit

e) do not host parties or gatherings, and do not generate excessive noise

f) implement contracts that will ensure compliance with these requirements, require the use of face coverings and appropriate physical distancing while out and about in our community, and acknowledge the potential for eviction if these requirements are violated, and 

g) remit all transient occupancy taxes due in a timely manner.

Again, the City has and will continue to take aggressive enforcement action against vacation rental guests and vacation rental owners / managers that do not adhere to these requirements. Vacation rental guests that violate these requirements will be evicted, as the City will not tolerate the mixing of households in our vacation rentals. Additionally, owners / managers of vacation rental units that do not effectively screen and monitor guests and ensure that they comply with these requirements will be cited and fined. This penalty is in addition to the eviction of the vacation rental guests.

The City recently produced a new informational video, and distributed it to all vacation rental owners and managers (to share with their guests) during the holidays. Check it out here .

The City has deliberately implemented a very reasonable enforcement approach with regard to vacation rentals at this time, and absolutely expects COOPERATION from all vacation rental guests, owners, and managers. We thank our vacation rental owners, managers, and guests for your diligent efforts.
With COVID-19 cases continuing to increase, and hospital capacity still severely strained, we need EVERYONE to take appropriate health and safety precautions to keep our community safe. It's not asking too much for you to simply do all the right things outlined below:


  • 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.


  • follow all recommended safety protocols and requirements for your industry,

  • require ALL employees and patrons to WEAR A FACE COVERING (there is absolutely no excuse!),

  • establish effective physical distancing procedures in your business, and keep your patrons as separated as possible,

  • make it easy for your employees and patrons to exercise good personal hygiene,

  • recognize that your employees', your patrons', and your community's safety depends on the actions you take to keep people safe,

  • recognize that your future ability to stay open depends on the actions you take to keep people safe, and

  • set the right example for your employees and patrons!


  • if you are feeling sick, stay at home and DO NOT VISIT us now,

  • KEEP TO YOUR OWN HOUSEHOLD GROUP while you are here,

  • 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,

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

  • enjoy the permitted activities in our beautiful community, including skiing, snowboarding, sledding, tubing, hiking, and more, but otherwise limit your interactions with others in our community,

  • order take-out or delivery from one of our terrific local restaurants, and

  • RESPECT our community - do your part to keep us safe!
Stay Informed!
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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
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  • 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