It seems that each and every day brings something new in the coronavirus emergency. New cases, new orders, new information on testing and treatments. It’s a time of uncertainty and unknowns.
San Bernardino County has nine confirmed cases of COVID-19. As of this time, there are no confirmed cases in Big Bear. However, a handful of tests for the novel coronavirus have been administered by Bear Valley Community Hospital, according to John Friel, CEO. Results are pending, Friel said.
A stay at home order was issued statewide by Governor Gavin Newsom on March 19. No one is on lockdown. People are still allowed to go outside their homes for essential business, work, to pick up takeout meals and even exercise and fresh air. They are asked to practice social distancing.
According to the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station, the stay at home order is enforceable, but no one is going to be carted off in handcuffs for venturing outside.
Capt. Mitch Dattilo, commander at the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station, said the stay at home order has a number of interpretations. People are not under quarantine, but need to take the order seriously, Dattilo said.
If the Sheriff’s Department receives a complaint of groups of people or restaurants still holding inside dining for example, those calls are directed to the Public Health complaint line to be vetted, Datillo said. If there is a violation, the matter is referred back to the Sheriff’s Station. Deputies are sent out to talk with potential violators to come to a viable solution, he said.
The violations can become a misdemeanor, Dattilo said. But the hope is that contact will result in adherence to the orders, he said. “We are in this fight together,” he said.
A number of businesses in Big Bear are open for essential business, said Tiffany Swantek, public information officer for the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station. Those include grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants for takeout or delivery service only, hardware stores, banks and financial institutions and post offices. If you are unsure if a business is still open, call ahead before venturing out, Swantek said.
Being on the front lines, Sheriff’s Department personnel are taking their own precautions to be safe. The lobby remains open, as there is a glass window and door that separate the public from station personnel. Some services have been reduced or suspended if not essential, Dattilo said. Personnel in the office do have masks if needed and personal protective measures are taken to keep them safe, Datillo said.
When a call for service is received at dispatch, a number of screening questions are asked with that information passed along to deputies. The knowledge lets the deputy know how to respond in terms of personal protective gear.
The captain and lieutenant are joining deputies in patrolling and monitoring areas in the Valley such as grocery store parking lots and inside the stores to make sure everyone is being a good neighbor, Datillo said. The Big Bear vibe is positive and one Datillo said he is proud of in the way the community’s residents are handling the situation. He said he sees people helping people and he is appreciative of way Big Bear is responding.