Update #45
COVID-19 Emergency
April 28, 2020 - 8:30 pm
County Adjusts # of Confirmed Cases -
Again Reports 5 Confirmed Cases in City of Big Bear Lake, 2 in Unincorporated Areas

Hospital Bed, Ventilator Availability Remains Consistent

City's Begins Work on Gradual, Incremental, Thoughtful, Safe Resumption of Business Activities

Council Approves COVID-19 Budget Actions, Approves City Reorganization Plan

Thursday is Deadline for Seeking TOT / TBID Payment Extension
The City of Big Bear Lake is working 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 threats in Big Bear Lake and the City's response to these threats.

This email newsletter is the official guidance from the City of Big Bear Lake, and the City appreciates everyone's adherence to the restrictions and recommendations 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 Frank A. Rush, Jr., City Manager, at 909-866-5832 or via email.
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!
San Bernardino County has adjusted the numbers for the City of Big Bear Lake, and again reports a total of 5 confirmed cases in the City of Big Bear Lake and 2 in unincorporated areas outside the City limits.

The County reports a total of 1,827 confirmed cases in San Bernardino County. A total of 18,579 tests have been administered thus far in the County, with 9.8% testing positive for COVID-19. Sadly, a total of 85 people have now died from COVID-19 in San Bernardino County. Thankfullly, there are 0 deaths reported for the Big Bear Valley.

This data is updated daily at the County's COVID-19 dashboard, and the City encourages everyone to view this site for the most accurate information.
City officials continue to track the County's data regarding hospital bed and ventilator availability in our County, and this data is one of many considerations guiding the City's COVID-19 actions. Thankfully, the data suggests that COVID-19 remains relatively manageable in our area. Fortunately, hospitals in San Bernardino County and Big Bear Lake are functioning normally and have not been overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.

According to the County, there are a total of 253 patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. The number of patients hospitalized has generally remained in the 250 - 350 range since April 1, with a peak of 451 on April 10. The County reports a total of 1,085 "surge capacity" beds (the number of additional beds a hospital could provide if all available space was needed) in the County, and there are approximately 6,000 total hospital beds in the County.

There are a total of 73 patients in intensive care, and 175 intensive care beds are still available. The number of ICU patients has generally remained in the 75 - 125 range since April 1, with a peak of 124 on April 10. There are a total of 294 ventilators in use in the County, and an additional 531 ventilators still available. This number has remained steady in the 300 range since April 1.

Bear Valley Community Hospital and Big Bear Fire / EMS officials continue to report lower patient and call volumes than typical for this time of year, which remains a good sign for our community. Bear Valley Community Hospital is equipped with 7 ventilators locally.
Last night, City Council reviewed a draft proposal for the gradual, incremental, thoughtful, and safe resumption of business activities in Big Bear Lake. Council received significant public comment via email and received additional comment during the meeting, and greatly appreciates the thoughtful comments form our community members. Ultimately, City Council expressed general support for the plan, and appointed a special ad hoc committee to review, adjust, and improve the plan in the coming days and weeks. The new committee will ultimately make a final recommendation regarding the proposal to City Council sometime in May.

City Council appointed the following members of the ad hoc committee:

Lodging – Oliver Deubel, Big Bear Frontier

Vacation Rentals – JoAnn Cecil, Destination Big Bear

Retail – Dallas Goldsmith, Goldsmiths Sports

Restaurant – Ron Vanderbroeke, Stone Entertainment Group

Recreation – Wade Reeser, Big Bear Mountain Resorts

At Large – Ron Peavy, Liz Harris

City Council – Rick Herrick, Randy Putz

The ad hoc committee will begin its work later this week, with the first meeting tentatively scheduled for Friday.

The draft proposal is available online for review, and this proposal will serve as the starting point for discussion by the ad hoc committee. It is important to note that the City's future actions are dependent on Governor Newsom's and San Bernardino County public health officials' actions, and the City is working hard to be ready for anticipated flexibility from the Governor and/or County in the coming weeks.

As one could imagine, there are likely a million different ideas and opinions about this issue in our community, and the City is working hard to find the right balance for OUR community. The broad, diverse perspectives of the ad hoc committee members, combined with City staff input, additional public input, stakeholder involvement, and ultimately City Council judgment will help us to implement a gradual, incremental, thoughtful, and safe resumption of business activities.

City Council also took several actions last night to mitigate the significant budget impacts associated with COVID-19 in an effort to preserve the City's strong financial position. The City is fortunate to have relatively robust financial reserves, and last night's Council actions will enhance the City's ability to maintain these reserves for future COVID-19 budget impacts.

For FY 19-20 (the current fiscal year), Council approved total budget reductions of approximately $850,000, thus greatly reducing the City's anticipated use of General Fund reserves this year. For FY 20-21 (next fiscal year), the Council expressed preliminary support for a balanced General Fund budget of $14.77 million that is approximately $2.45 million less than projected FY 19-20 expenditures. City Council also approved a reorganization plan for City government that will be implemented in FY 20-21 and result in approximately $600,000 of reductions in salary, benefit, and contracted services costs. The new structure also places additional emphasis on the City's tourism management, public information, and long-term planning efforts.

In an effort to assist our valued lodging and vacation rental industry that is severely strained during the COVID-19 emergency, City Council has approved a 61-day waiver of penalties and interest for the remittance of transient occupancy tax (TOT) and tourism business improvement district (TBID) payments due on April 30. This action has the practical effect of preserving cash-flow for strained businesses until lodging and vacation rental operations resume in the coming weeks.

TOT and TBID payments are still due on April 30, and those businesses and vacation rental owners that are willing and able to remit these funds by April 30 should do so in the typical manner. For those experiencing temporary financial difficulty, a penalty and interest waiver may be secured through June 30, 2020 by a) filing the required remittance form by April 30, and b) executing a simple lien agreement (that will not be recorded if payment is ultimately made to the City). The penalty and interest waiver effectively delays the required payment to the City until June 30, 2020 for these businesses and vacation rentals.

The required forms and instructions are now available, and can be downloaded here. Please note that the required lien agreement must be notarized, and City notaries are available to assist if helpful to you - please simply call 909-866-5831 to make an appointment to come into the office. If you are not located in Big Bear Lake, and need to file remotely, the forms can be emailed to the City prior to the April 30 deadline and you will still qualify for the waiver (but hard copy forms must be mailed to the City after the April 30 email deadline).

The City is very pleased to provide this assistance to our valued lodging facilities and vacation rentals. Please contact City staff at 909-866-5831 if you need help completing the required forms, and we'll be happy to help!

It should be noted that other retail and food service businesses in Big Bear Lake are already eligible for delayed remittance of sales tax, and this action extends similar assistance to the lodging and vacation rental industry that only pay TOT and TBID assessments.
In accordance with Governor Newsom's and San Bernardino County public health orders, the City previously advised lodging facilities and vacation rentals that they could not operate and to block out all dates through at least April 30. With that deadline now less than a week away, and no expected adjustments to the Governor's or County orders in the short-term, the City is now advising lodging facilities and vacation rentals to continue to block out all dates and not welcome any guests through at least May 8. This date may be extended further depending on continually evolving circumstances, and lodging facilities and vacation rental managers / owners should advise scheduled guests accordingly.

The City continues to monitor the COVID-19 issue in Big Bear Lake and San Bernardino County, and continues to monitor any adjustments in the Governor's or County orders. Any termination or adjustment of the Governor's or County orders regarding lodging facilities and vacation rentals, or any additional extension of the May 8 date will be included in future City COVID-19 updates as new information becomes available.
The City of Big Bear Lake has implemented various public health recommendations and restrictions for the past several weeks, and continues to do so.

The City encourages everyone to heed the following recommendations:

  • diligently honor the Governor's order to "shelter in place",

  • limit your interactions with others to the maximum extent practical,

  • plan your essential trips out accordingly, and limit the number of trips to the grocery store, drug store, etc.,

  • keep at least 6 feet of distance between you and others you come into contact with,

  • wash your hands ALL THE TIME,

  • if you need to get outside, take a walk, go for a run, take a bike ride, or go on a hike by yourself or with your family - but stay far way from others!

The following key restrictions remain in effect in Big Bear Lake:
  • everyone in Big Bear Lake is directed to "shelter in place", especially those age 65 and older and those who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, however, travel is permitted for work and to conduct personal business,

  • face coverings must be worn when you are interacting with others out in the community,

  • grocery stores, drug stores, and other essential retail and service businesses may operate,

  • construction and repair activities may continue,

  • bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, gyms, bowling alleys, ski areas, snow play areas, and other similar businesses may not operate,

  • restaurants are closed for in-restaurant seated dining, however, take-out and delivery services are permitted,

  • lodging and vacation rentals may not operate, except for very limited situations,

  • non-essential group gatherings of any size are prohibited, including commercial establishments, churches, community groups, and other formal and informal group activities,

  • isolated, outdoor exercise is permitted, including walking your dog, and

  • City parks (for pedestrian access, no parking available) and the Alpine Pedal Path remain open, however, these facilities should be enjoyed by yourself, with your small family group, and users should avoid close contact with others.
The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health operates a COVID-19 Hotline for residents with questions about COVID-19. Please call (909) 387-3911 for assistance.
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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 threat - 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:
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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