While San Bernardino County, along with most of the nation, made tremendous progress in the battle against COVID-19 during the late summer, we have suffered a significant relapse over the past several weeks. We not only are experiencing a steady rise in infections and positivity rates but are also beginning to see a noticeable increase in hospitalizations.
“Despite aggressive efforts to combat the pandemic, our county — like many others around the state — has experienced an undeniable spike in COVID-19 infections,” said County Public Health Director Corwin Porter. “The majority of new cases involve those between the ages of 18-49, and there’s no question that ‘COVID fatigue’ has led some to relax on safe practices, especially when it comes to social gatherings.”
Porter noted one area where County residents have performed impressively is testing.
“We have seen a steady increase in the number of tests performed over the last two months,” Porter said. “We’re very appreciative of how residents have responded to our pleas to get tested because this has helped us hit back at possible cluster outbreaks. Without the increased testing, the spread could be even worse.”
The rise in COVID-19 cases is not limited to San Bernardino County. As of November 28, some 1.2 million Californians have been diagnosed with the disease; more than 19,100 have died. There are currently 45 California counties, including Riverside and Orange, in the State’s most restrictive Purple Tier — compared to just 13 at the beginning of the month. Infections are also increasing in states nationwide, as well in as most European nations and elsewhere around the world.
In response, Gov. Gavin Newsom has enacted what he termed a “limited stay-at-home order” for Purple Tier counties. The order’s primary element is a curfew that prohibits personal gatherings and nonessential businesses from operating between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
In common with the State, much of the County’s current focus is on ensuring area hospitals are adequately equipped — and staffed — to handle an expected rise in new patients.
“A top priority is ensuring that our hospitals and ICU units are not overrun with new patients,” said Porter. “Fortunately, we have expanded surge capacity and are reasonably well stocked with PPE.”
Fortunately, the COVID-19 news is not all negative. In the face of the current spike in cases, there is a shining light of hope–highly positive announcements from three major vaccine developers, with expectations that at least one of the vaccines will gain FDA approval before year-end.
The promise of a vaccine and widespread distribution in the coming year should encourage all residents to find the resolve to continue with safe practices even in the face of COVID fatigue. As we move indoors in colder months, it couldn’t be more important to continue following the guidelines repeatedly stressed over the past several months: 1) Maintain social distancing; 2) Wear a face covering when around others; 3) Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly; 4) Avoid gathering with those outside your household to the extent possible.
“We have been through an extremely difficult year and are still far from having this pandemic behind us,” said County Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “This Thanksgiving and holiday season will be like no other, and we are urging everyone to keep their celebrations small. Still, we are proud of our County’s response and impressed with the resolve shown by our residents. We will get through this.”