It all happened with sudden and terrible swiftness.
Within a span of a week, the coronavirus pandemic, which had been causing huge turmoil and anguish in remote places like China and Italy, abruptly hit home in Fontana and the rest of San Bernardino County.
Schools were shut down. Long lines formed at supermarkets. Community centers were closed. All non-essential public gatherings -- including church services, musical performances, and athletic events -- were cancelled.
The state of emergency was expected to result in severe economic damage, with devastating losses for businesses and their employees.
The only bright spot was that even though 17 cases of coronavirus had been reported in San Bernardino County as of March 22, no deaths from COVID-19 had taken place in the county.
“Complying with public health orders is essential to our continued health and safety,” said Acting County Health Officer Dr. Erin Gustafson. “These orders are not intended to spark panic, but rather reduce the spread of infection and minimize the number of people who get sick at any one time to keep our healthcare system functioning.
“There is a fairly even distribution of cases throughout our county. No one should assume the virus is not present in their community. We must presume and behave as if the virus is everywhere."
City of Fontana officials, who declared a state of emergency on March 14, created a Fontana Together hashtag which was designed to uplift frightened residents.
"Our purpose is not to alarm people, but to establish processes and procedures that will limit exposure and remind everyone that together we can overcome this,” said Mayor Acquanetta Warren during the meeting in which the emergency was established.
“This proactive move by our city ensures that as a community, we are vigilant in safeguarding ourselves -- and especially our most vulnerable populations," said City Councilmember Jesse Armendarez.
----- OFFICIALS URGED RESIDENTS to take the following precautions:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
• Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
• If someone does become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough, they should stay away from work, school or other people to avoid spreading illness and seek assistance from their healthcare provider if symptoms become severe.
• N95 masks are not recommended outside a healthcare setting. Surgical masks can be worn by sick individuals to reduce the likelihood of spreading germs to others.
For information about the coronavirus crisis, visit San Bernardino County's coronavirus website at wp.sbcounty.gov/dph/coronavirus, contact the coronavirus public information line from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at 909-387-3911, or email email@example.com. The public information line is not equipped to handle medical questions or requests for medical care. Medical questions or requests for medical care should be made to medical care providers only.