San Bernardino County officials had been hoping that an improvement in fighting the coronavirus would lead to more businesses being able to open up on Sept. 29. Sadly, it didn't happen.
"We are deeply disappointed to share the news that a late spike in cases due to the Labor Day holiday weekend caused the San Bernardino County case rate to exceed the criteria for achieving a red-tier designation," the county said in a news release.
"Specifically, our positivity rate of 5.67 percent was low enough to make the cut; unfortunately, we reported 7.75 cases per day per 100,000 residents, which is well above the figure the state requires to proceed to the less restrictive tier."
Moreover, because the state requires a county to maintain supportive numbers for a full two-week period (and continue those numbers to remain in the favorable tier), the county is forced to “reset the clock” and begin a new 14-day tracking period. Where the county stands with the state can be clearly seen on the county status webpage.
"The problem? Though our county has made excellent progress since July, when COVID-19 infections peaked, we recently experienced a notable spike in new cases — which our analysis shows was largely due to social gatherings over the Labor Day weekend," the county said. "Specifically, data presented to the Board of Supervisors earlier today from Director of Public Health Corwin Porter showed a spike in cases in persons age 18-34, and that 58.3 percent of the reported cases the last 28 days stemmed from gatherings of friends or family members."
Members of the Board of Supervisors vowed to continue pressing the state to adopt less-restrictive criteria and allow the county’s economy to reopen.
“We share in the disappointment in this news, but at the same time, we know we continue to be very close to breaking this threshold,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “With a little more effort, we can enable restaurants and other businesses to serve customers indoors, theaters to open, churches and synagogues to expand worship services, and schools to provide in-person instruction.
“The bottom line is that this means continuing to wear face coverings and maintaining social distancing, and most of all, resisting the temptation to gather with friends."
Hagman also noted that the county is working with the state to identify areas where restrictions may be relaxed, for example by allowing the county’s vast rural areas to reopen while public health officials focus on reducing infections in more densely populated urban areas.
Porter stressed the need for greatly expanded testing, and encouraged all residents, including those showing no signs of the disease, to get tested at their earliest convenience.
“We need to increase the number of tests performed by at least 1,000 a day to avoid state penalties,” Porter said. “Testing quickly identifies infected individuals, including the asymptomatic, so the county can use its Contact Tracing system to notify and reduce the chance of passing the virus to others. And remember, expanded testing will increase the number of residents producing negative results, which lowers the county’s positivity rate.”
San Bernardino County has made the process of getting tested as easy as possible, Porter said. Combined with state, local and retail partners, there are more than two dozen testing locations (including the Jessie Turner Center in Fontana), and that includes weekend testing, after-hour sites and even the ability for employers to establish on-site testing for their employees.
Though scheduling an appointment is encouraged, most sites will accept walk ups.