March 31, 2020-Supervisor Janice Rutherford-County COVID-19 Virus Update

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Member/Alternates Only Meeting

Virtual meeting via ZOOM


Present:   Deborah Barmack, Carole Beswick, Mike Burrows, Mark Cloud, Ken Coate, LaDonna DiCamillo, Louis Goodwin, Otis Greer, Milford Harrison, Fran Inman, Mark Kaenel, Lowell King, Bill Lemann, Dan Little, John Magness, P.T. McEwen, John Mirau, Dan Murphy, Vikki Ostermann, Bansree Parikh, Catherine Pritchett, Thomas Rice, Michael Rivera, Dan Roberts, Elizabeth Romero, Dan Schenkel, Kristine Scott, Patty Senecal, Paul Shimoff, Pete Van Helden, David Van Voorhis, Kim Wilcox and Ray Wolfe.


Guests: Mark Taylor, Scott Van Horn


Announcements: 1) The Executive Committee met via Zoom Monday, March 30, 2020 to discuss state advocacy.  After discussion and review of information supplied by Senator Richard Roth, committees were advised that Inland Action will not develop a state legislative platform as the trip is canceled for this year.  Our legislators are hyper focused on the budget in addition to Corona virus, wildfires and housing/homelessness.  At this point, they only have time to accomplish the essentials.  Senator Roth will participate in a ZOOM meeting with Inland Action at a later date.


Pete Van Helden, Stater Bros. Markets, gave an overview of the effects of the pandemic on the grocery chain.  They have experienced unprecedented levels of sales and hoarding.  They are closely complying with all CDC guidelines and recommendations.  Although not recommended by the CDC,  employees are permitted to wear masks and gloves from their personal supplies.  If gloves are worn, they must be disposed of every hour.   (Employees are required to report to work with a minimum of 8-9 pair of gloves for their shift).  Stater Bros. has reduced overall hours to give them time to more thoroughly clean and restock.  Morning hours for senior citizens has worked well.  The supply is almost restored with paper goods remaining in short supply.  Produce is in good shape.  Dry goods such as flour, rice & beans should be back to normal next week. Some shortages may be due to the reduction in overall manufacturing (in the past toilet paper was sourced from 17 manufacturers but is now down to 4).


Louis Goodwin, Chairman introduced Supervisor Janice Rutherford.


San Bernardino County has launched a COVID-19 virus dashboard that can be found on their website.  The County is now sharing the number of cases by community, hoping not to stigmatizing any specific communities or give a false sense of security to residents.  The dashboard will be updated daily.  The Supervisor also summarized the County’s new COVID-19 Small Business Loan information document.


California Governor Gavin Newsom and the State Public Health Officer on March 19 issued a statewide stay-at-home order with exceptions for essential tasks and services.  The Acting County Health Officer and the Board of Supervisors have declared a local health emergency to help ensure county government and the public are prepared and allowed flexibility in response. Various county departments and agencies are working together and in partnership with cities, schools, businesses, and non-profit communities to ensure an effective response.

The financial burden for the County will be excessive.  One example the Supervisor sited is Arrowhead Regional Medical Center that has an annual budget of $650M.  They anticipate the facility will have overruns of an additional $150M.  Budget items for the County have changed, and many planned changes and improvements are delayed or canceled.   State and Federal funds have been requested.


The County is working on a “Health Core” which would include retired medical workers and those students close to graduating who could be brought back for this medical care crisis.  They are working with the San Bernardino County Employees Retirement Association to allow retirees with medical experience to return to work without jeopardizing their retirement benefits.  San Bernardino County has the largest population of veterans, who also may be called into service if they have medical or other beneficial training.


San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors is the governing board for Inland Counties Emergency Medical Agency (ICEMA).  This joint powers authority coordinates the supply needs of medical facilities (hospitals, nursing homes, etc.) within San Bernardino County and equitably distributes masks and other needed medical supplies.  Masks and 800 new ventilators have been ordered.  Some 20 FEMA trailers are on route and will be used for the affected homeless or other populations.


Unfortunately, some popular hiking trails and parks have been closed as people are not complying with social distancing.  The Forest Service has implemented a $5,000 fine to deter these people.  Short term rentals like VRBO are a concern as some are continuing short term rental service.  The County is working with these organizations to encourage their compliance with the County guidelines.   Small and mountain communities are getting an influx of people which will further strain medical services.  Essential services are self-policing and in our open society are challenging.  Businesses not in compliance with essential services rules can be reported to the Sheriff’s office.  According to the Sheriff’s Office, crime is currently down 20%, and jails have experienced a 17% reduction in population.


The County has received numerous calls from those wanting to help.  Hotel owners are offering rooms for first responders, and others are asking the County what donations might help during this time.


A Q & A period followed.


Meeting adjourned at 8:35 a.m.