Update #49
COVID-19 Emergency
May 2, 2020 - 5:30 pm
Still 5 Confirmed Cases in Big Bear Lake, 3 in Unincorporated Areas

No Significant Change in COVID-19 Hospitalizations, Ventilator Use

City Remains Hopeful for Flexibility From Governor Newsom, Seeks RESPONSIBLE Reopening

Committee Meets Again on Monday
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!
There are still a total of 8 confirmed cases in Big Bear Valley, with a total of 5 confirmed cases in the City of Big Bear Lake and 3 in unincorporated areas outside the City limits.

The County reports a total of 2,182 confirmed cases in San Bernardino County. A total of 20,696 tests have been administered thus far in the County, with 10.5% testing positive for COVID-19. Sadly, a total of 97 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 now perhaps the most important data to consider as we move forward on the COVID-19 issue.

County data suggests that COVID-19 remains relatively manageable in our area, as COVID-19 hospitalizations and ventilator use have now remained steady for more than a month. Thankfully, hospitals in San Bernardino County are not overburdened by COVID-19, and are functioning in a relatively normal manner.

According to the County, there are a total of 280 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 79 patients in intensive care, and 162 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 297 ventilators in use in the County, and an additional 544 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 30+ hospital beds and 7 ventilators.
Thankfully, as a community, Big Bear Lake has fared relatively well with regard to the significant health impacts associated with COVID-19:

  • to date there have only been 5 confirmed cases in the City, with no new cases reported in the past 9 days,

  • there have only been 2 new confirmed cases in Big Bear Lake in the past 30 day, and it's also likely that some or all of the confirmed cases in Big Bear Lake have recovered by now,

  • the unincorporated areas outside Big Bear Lake only have a total of 3 confirmed cases to date,

  • the April 17 testing event in Big Bear Lake yielded only 1 positive test out of 229, and there was sufficient testing capacity for many more that day, but was not needed,

  • any individual in our community who needs a COVID-19 test can easily secure a test at a nearby location,

  • there is sufficient hospital bed, ICU bed, and ventilator capacity in San Bernardino County,

  • Big Bear Fire / EMS call volumes remain below typical levels, and Bear Valley Community Hospital reports manageable patient loads,

  • antibody testing is in the process of being rolled out in San Bernardino County, and

  • Big Bear Lake residents and businesses have acted responsibly, and have diligently adhered to the recommendations and restrictions for more than 7 weeks now.

Although the State of California may not yet have met the desired targets for Governor Newsom to lift restrictions, most places in California have had a similar experience as Big Bear Lake. Although the challenges may still be significant for the most heavily populated, densely developed cities in California, that is not the case in most areas of California. The City remains hopeful that Governor Newsom will soon recognize that "one-size does not fit all", and that he will trust officials at the local level to make responsible decisions for their communities.

The City believes that it's time for Big Bear Lake to reopen - in a safe and responsible manner. The City is committed to doing it right, keeping our residents safe, and restoring our local economy, and is simply waiting for the green light from Governor Newsom. Based on recent developments and the Governor's recent comments, we are hopeful that additional flexibility will be granted sometime during the coming week.

The City greatly appreciates the responsible behavior by our residents and businesses over the past 7 weeks, and also EVERYONE's patience as we work to reopen our community in the coming days. There appears to be light at the end of the tunnel!
The City Council-appointed ad hoc committee tasked with reviewing, adjusting, and improving the City's draft proposal held its first meeting on Friday, and offered many helpful insights. The committee expressed support for a plan that keeps our community safe (including our most vulnerable residents), is easy to understand and communicate, and that relies on social distancing, face coverings, proper hygiene, business responsibility, and personal responsibility. The committee stressed the need for for all businesses to diligently adhere to "best practices" for operations and disinfection, and is awaiting the development of recommendations for each business segment in Big Bear Lake. The committee also noted that all businesses should be treated equally within each business segment, and that any occupancy limits should be carefully crafted to enable businesses to remain profitable.

The committee will meet again on Monday, May 4, and is expected to engage in additional discussion regarding a phased approach - or perhaps not, the best mechanism to limit business occupancy, welcoming back our visitors in a responsible manner, and creative strategies to enable businesses to operate near or at full occupancy (i.e, expanded outdoor dining). A copy of the committee's agenda packet can be viewed here. The committee is expected to meet again on Wednesday, May 6, and may finalize its recommendation to City Council at that meeting, or soon thereafter. The City Council meets again on Monday, May 11, and we are hopeful that City Council will review the committee's recommendations at that meeting. We are also hopeful that Governor Newsom will have adjusted restrictions by that date.
San Bernardino County public health officials are beginning to roll out antibody testing, with a pilot project planned in Needles next week and ongoing testing at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. The County expects to gradually expand antibody testing throughout the County, and the City will be working to schedule testing in the Big Bear Valley as soon as possible.
With gorgeous spring weather upon us, and almost everyone anxious to get out of the house after the past 7 weeks, we are expecting many to be outside enjoying Big Bear Lake this weekend.

It is important to note that outdoor activity is permitted, as long as it's done in isolation or with your household unit, you keep moving, and care is taken to stay far away from others also enjoying the outdoors. Face coverings are not required when engaging in solitary outdoor activities or with your household unit, however, face coverings must be worn if others are nearby. USFS hiking trails, City parks, and the Alpine Pedal Path are expected to experience higher usage this weekend, so please be cautious and avoid interacting with others.

If you are out for a walk in your neighborhood, in The Village, or along the lake, please keep your distance from others, do not congregate, and make sure you are wearing face coverings. Please note that restaurants and other food establishments are permitted to operate for take-out and delivery only, and if you order food please do not congregate outside the establishment! Please take your food home, or to a location far away from others.

Boating activities are permitted on the lake this weekend, with a maximum of 4 individuals permitted on the boat. Limited vehicle / trailer parking (only 25 spaces) is available at the East Public Launch Ramp, and social distancing and face coverings are required while launching.

The City will have an increased enforcement presence this weekend to ensure that the public complies with these requirements. The City is working hard to enable the reopening of businesses in our community, and in order for us to take this next step it is critical for our community to use proper social distancing, face coverings, and personal hygiene. Thank you for your cooperation!

City Council previously authorized a 61-day waiver of penalties and interest for transient occupancy tax (TOT) and tourism business improvement district (TBID) payments, effectively extending the payment deadline from April 30 to June 30. This delay enables lodging and vacation rental facilities to maintain cash-flow during the next two months - when we expect to have these facilities operating again and generating new revenue. A total of 34 waivers were granted, with a total dollar value of approximately $600,000. The City is pleased to assist our lodging and vacation rental facilities that our critical to the City's community success!
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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