Update #53
COVID-19 Emergency
May 7, 2020 - 8:30 pm
Still Only 5 Confirmed Cases in City, No New Cases in City in Past 14 Days

Sufficient Hospital, Ventilator Capacity in San Bernardino County

City Disappointed in Governor Newsom's Announcements Today, Seeking Authority to Reopen in Safe, Responsible Manner

Committee Finalizes Recommended Reopening Plan, Does Not Include Closing Streets in The Village

Lodging, Vacation Rentals Required to Block Out Reservations Through May 14

City Council Set to Meet In Person on Monday, Public Can View and Participate Remotely
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.

There have been no new cases in the City of Big Bear Lake in the past 14 days, and only 2 new cases since April 2.

The County reports a total of 2,562 confirmed cases in San Bernardino County. A total of 26,656 tests have been administered thus far in the County, with 9.6% testing positive for COVID-19. Sadly, a total of 108 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 manageable in our area, as COVID-19 hospitalizations and ventilator use continue to remain relatively constant. 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 260 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 1,199 "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 78 patients in intensive care, and 139 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 292 ventilators in use in the County, and an additional 551 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 generally 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 30+ hospital beds and 7 ventilators.
Governor Newsom announced a slight loosening of restrictions on certain retail businesses and manufacturing activities today, however, unfortunately these adjustments still require most businesses in Big Bear Lake to remain closed. The Governor also announced details regarding the procedure and criteria for granting California counties the authority to lift restrictions and begin to resume business activities in their jurisdictions. Unfortunately, the criteria established by the Governor appears to be completely unattainable for most counties in California, including San Bernardino County, and suggests that additional restrictions would not be lifted for several more weeks. For example, one of the Governor's criteria for a County to be granted local authority is that there must be zero COVID-19 deaths in the County for a period of at least 14 days. Although the loss of a loved one to COVID-19 (or any cause) is tragic, it is unrealistic to expect zero deaths in even the smallest county in California, let alone San Bernardino County - with a population of nearly 2.2 million people.

The City had hoped the Governor would create a clear path for San Bernardino County (and ultimately the City of Big Bear Lake) to make our own decisions regarding the resumption of business activities. The City has been working hard in recent weeks to develop a safe, responsible plan for the resumption of ALL business activities, in some form or fashion, and will continue to pursue authority to implement our plan for the City of Big Bear Lake (and the entire Big Bear Valley). City officials will be meeting with other local and State officials to determine the best strategy going forward, as it is critical that we begin to return to some sense of normalcy in Big Bear Lake.
There are several indicators that confirm the confirm the City's readiness to implement a safe, responsible reopening plan :

  • there are a total of 5 confirmed cases in the City and 3 in unincorporated areas, some or all of these have likely recovered by now, and there have been no new cases in the City since April 23,

  • testing is available to any individual experiencing symptoms, either in the Big Bear Valley or at several testing locations down the hill and in other San Bernardino County communities,

  • the April 17 drive-thru test site in Big Bear Lake was prepared to test up to 650 individuals, however, only 229 individuals sought testing, with only 1 individual testing positive, thus suggesting that the incidence of COVID-19 remains low in our community,

  • the County is working to increase antibody testing throughout the County, and the City is seeking to arrange for widespread antibody testing in the Big Bear Valley,

  • COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU patients, and ventilator use have remained constant in San Bernardino County hospitals for the duration of the COVID-19 issue, and thankfully, there remains adequate capacity in the healthcare system to manage COVID-19 in our County,

  • Big Bear Fire Department (our emergency medical service provider) has reported typical or lower than normal call volumes, and Bear Valley Community Hospital has reported manageable patient volumes for the duration of the COVID-19 event,

  • most of our businesses have been closed for 7 – 8 weeks now, with no overnight visitors during that time, leading to significant financial strain for most of our businesses, and

  • many local businesses have sought loan assistance, with varying degrees of success, and an unprecedented number of individuals have received government assistance of some kind to survive the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and government “stay at home” orders.

The City and the community of Big Bear Lake have diligently adhered to the Governor's recommendations and restrictions since mid-March , as the stated goals for our State were to limit the spread and enable our healthcare system to effectively manage the COVID-19 response. It appears that this approach has been successful in California, as COVID-19 hospitalizations have remained constant in the 5,000 +/- range since the beginning of April. There are approximately 75,000 total hospital beds in California. It should also be noted that, in mid-March, the Governor indicated that the State would also need to add an additional 50,000 hospital beds.

Although the loss of life associated with COVID-19 is tragic, we are all grateful that the "stay at home" order achieved the stated goals for California , and grateful that Big Bear Lake has fared relatively well. There has, however, been tremendous economic and social harm as a result of COVID-19 and the government-mandated restrictions, and the City seeks to mitigate this economic and social harm in our community in a thoughtful and safe manner - that is determined by our community ! The City continues to work diligently on this issue, and additional information will be included in future City updates.
The City Council-appointed ad hoc committee tasked with reviewing, adjusting, and improving the City's April 27 draft proposal for reopening Big Bear Lake has completed its work, and the committee's recommendations will be presented to City Council for consideration on May 11.

The City continues to be dependent on Governor Newsom and San Bernardino County to delegate authority for the City to implement its own restrictions, but is working hard to be prepared if / when that authority is granted. The City continues to work closely with County officials on this issue, and is confident that our community can reopen in a safe, responsible manner if / when granted authority. If approved by the City Council, the City would implement the committee's recommended plan upon approval of the Governor and/or the County.

The committee's recommended plan includes the following key provisions:

  • allows all businesses to operate in Big Bear Lake at 50% occupancy initially, with 6 ft. separation between patrons,

  • allows 50% of lodging units in each facility to be occupied, along with 50% of all available vacation rental units (regardless of whether they are managed by a company or an individual),

  • allows restaurants to operate at 50% of permitted indoor / outdoor occupancy, with 6 ft. separation,

  • all businesses would implement "best practices" developed by local business leaders, industry experts, trade associations, and licensing boards,

  • requires everyone to maintain 6 ft. separation from others, and also requires everyone to carry face coverings on their person for required use when interacting with others,

  • overnight visitors would be encouraged to either bring food and supplies from their home community and/or patronize local restaurants, and

  • the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce would work with local businesses to establish special programs for seniors and vulnerable residents.

The committee ultimately decided not to recommend closing Pine Knot Ave. and Village Dr. in The Village or to recommend allowing additional outdoor restaurant seating and outdoor merchandise displays at this time. The committee expressed interest in this idea, and asked City Council to consider these ideas in the future if helpful in promoting 6 ft. separation and promoting expanded business opportunities.

City Council will review the committee's recommendations at its meeting on May 11, and a link to the Council agenda, all supporting information, and the committee's recommended plan will be included in Friday's COVID-19 update from the City.

As has been the case for the past two months, things change quickly and often with regard to COVID-19. The City's reopening plan reflects a deliberate, thoughtful, inclusive effort by our community to reopen in a safe, responsible manner, and will be implemented if / when authority is delegated by the Governor and/or the County. The City is well-prepared to act NOW if / when allowed, as we are anxious to restore our local economy in a safe manner.

The City greatly appreciates the time, expertise, and insights of the 9 committee members who developed the committee's recommendation that will be considered by City Council on Monday. The committee met 3 times over a 5-day period, and made several improvements to the original proposal. THANK YOU!
In accordance with Governor Newsom's and County public health officials' orders, lodging facilities and vacation rentals are now required to block out all dates through May 14.

The City continues to work with County officials to ease the restrictions on lodging facilities and vacation rentals, and remains hopeful that the City will again welcome visitors beginning on May 15. Additional information will be provided in the City's future COVID-19 updates.
The City Council will meet in person on Monday, May 11 at 6:30 pm for the first time in two months. The Council will meet in person at City Hall, with maximum separation between each member and City staff, to conduct the City's business, and this meeting represents an important milestone for the City. The public will not be able to attend the meeting in person, however, the meeting will be live on Channel 182 and the City's website, and the public will have the opportunity to comment remotely during the meeting. The agenda, supporting materials, and instructions for public comment will be made available on Friday, and information will be included in Friday's COVID-19 update from the City.
San Bernardino County officials are planning a County-wide, $30 million grant program to assist small businesses with expenses associated with reopening in a safe, "COVID-Compliant" manner.

The grant program will be available to Big Bear Lake businesses, and is expected to assist small businesses with costs associated with PPE, disinfectants, hygiene supplies, and more in order to promote public health and safety as the economy is reopened. The City will include additional details about this new grant program in future COVID-19 updates.
Governor Newsom recently announced the launch of the "Great Plates Delivered" program. This program will provide adults 65 and older and adults 60-64 who are at high-risk from COVID-19 with three (3) nutritious meals a day to help keep them safe at home and healthy, and also provides economic assistance to local restaurants .
The Great Plates Delivered Program is administered by San Bernardino County . Individuals with questions regarding how the program works and eligibility can find answers here . To enroll in the program, eligible individuals should call (888) 743-1485. Information on the program for Big Bear Lake restaurants interested in participating can be found here . Restaurants interested in participating should submit their interest to mary.bernal@hss.sbcounty.gov
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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.
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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