San Bernardino County reported its eighth coronavirus-related death Thursday as its overall case count climbed past 300.
The county, like many in California, has seen a sharp uptick in people testing positive for COVID-19 over the last week and a half. There were about 50 confirmed cases of the viral disease countywide as of March 25, but that number has since risen to 304.
Amid the widening pandemic, the county on Thursday ordered motels, hotels, residential rentals and other short-term lodging facilities to close unless they are being used as part of a COVID-19 response.
“Short-term rental activity continues to be an issue in our county’s mountain and desert communities, which is understandably causing distress to local residents who are acting responsibly and are concerned about the spread of virus by tourists,” Dr. Erin Gustafson, the county’s acting health officer, said in a statement.
“We advised short-term rental owners on March 22 to comply with the state health order, which clearly prohibits their operation. It is clear that a specific local order will assist with additional efforts to bring about compliance and assist in enforcement.”
San Bernardino also has joined a growing chorus of counties in recommending residents cover their faces when they leave their homes.
However, officials stressed that doing so should complement — not replace — other efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus, and that residents should still stay home as much as possible, keep their distance from others when they do have to go outside and wash their hands thoroughly and often.
Officials also said residents shouldn’t pursue surgical or N95 masks so those can get into the hands of healthcare workers and emergency responders. Other options — like homemade cloth coverings, handkerchiefs and bandannas — could be effective alternatives if used correctly.
“Covering your face may help reduce the chance that asymptomatic people spread COVID-19. This is not as effective as staying home and practicing social distancing,” county Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman said in a statement. “We all need to do our part to flatten the curve and residents should use this as one more tool to stop the spread of this disease.”
Here are the San Bernardino County communities where residents have tested positive:
Alta Loma: 2
Apple Valley: 3
Big Bear City: 1
Big Bear Lake: 3
Blue Jay: 2
Chino Hills: 10
Grand Terrace: 1
Loma Linda: 7
Oak Hills: 1
Rancho Cucamonga: 25
Running Springs: 2
San Bernardino: 15
Yucca Valley: 2