Coronavirus Reaction Prompts Progressive Disarrangements

After a month of increasing alarm with regard to the spread of the coronavirus, active precautions being taken by public agencies, elements of the private sector, private individuals and families this week have manifested in a profound change in the tenor of life throughout San Bernardino County, impacting the lifestyle of virtually all but the most reclusive elements of the county’s population.
Because of the perceived hazard of the disease, efforts, perhaps futile, have been undertaken nationally and locally to limit human interaction and contact on a macro-level in places and at events where people congregate. Major League Baseball announced Thursday that it will suspend spring training in response to the coronavirus outbreak and delay the start of its regular season. The NBA suspended its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus. In Southern California, after Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood closed their amusement venues, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, SeaWorld and Legoland followed suit.
The exhibition of caution at first crept into San Bernardino County and then leapt in full blown with the county board of supervisors on Tuesday declaring a public health emergency existed, and the county’s public health officer, Dr. Erin Gustafsen, ordering the immediate cancellation or postponement of gatherings of more than 250 people within the county until further notice. That order applied to concerts, conferences, and professional, college, and school sporting events. The county said the order was “in line with guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health.”
In rapid succession, most of the county’s school districts canceled classes for most, if not all, of the remainder of the month, though in some cases the closures fall close to or correspond to the traditional spring breaks schools take this time of year. The Adelanto School District is to close today, March 13, through March 27; the Alta Loma School District is to close today through April 3. Barstow Unified will shutter March 16 through March 20; the Central School District in Rancho Cucamonga will close March 16 through April 3; the Chaffey Joint Union High School District is closing today through April 3; the Chino Valley Unified School District is closing March 16 through April 3; the Etiwanda School District is closing March 16 through April 3; the Helendale Elementary School District will close March 16 through March 20; the Hesperia Unified School District is shutting down March 16 through March 27; the Mountain View School District in Ontario is closing March 16 through April 3; the Ontario-Montclair School District is closing March 16 through April 3; the Rim of the World Unified School District is closing March 16 through March 20; San Bernardino City Unified is closing March 16 through April 3; the Snowline Joint Unified School District is closing March 16 through March 27; Upland Unified is closing from March 16 through April 13; and the Victor Elementary School District is closing March 16 through March 27.
In accordance with the county health officer’s order, school athletic programs and interschool competitions will be canceled during that period as well.
At the University of Redlands, its spring sports activities have been canceled. Several local colleges, including Crafton Hills and San Bernardino Valley, have at least temporarily shifted to online classes so as to avoid having students in close proximity to one another.
The San Bernardino Catholic Diocese, which had already instituted changes in the way that taking communion – the sharing of unleavened bread during the religious celebration known as Mass – was done, has said the requirement that parishioners attend Mass on Sunday will be temporarily suspended.
The City of San Bernardino canceled its ArtsFest planned for tomorrow. The city’s employees in its park and recreation as well as its community service departments have been furloughed, and those departments’ programs are suspended until April 1.
The City of Highland postponed its March 28 Citrus Harvest Festival indefinitely.
Redlands is ending Thursday Market Nights and Saturday Farmers Markets at least until the end of March, and is postponing its Downtown Art Walk.
The City of Chino Hills has canceled or postponed its Youth Track & Field Meet, set for March 21; its Adult Easter Egg Scramble on April 3; its Easter Egg-Citement Event on April 11; activities at its teen center; as well as activities and events involving its Tiny Tots, Pee Wee Sports, youth rookie clinics, mobile recreation; Active Adults 50+ Drop-in programs, and those for special interest groups including quilting, knit & stitch, bookworm, scrapbooking, pinochle, cribbage, ping pong and billiards. Further, today’s Walk in the Park event is canceled, as are active adults paid classes, active adults line dancing, active adults fitness, mat pilates for adults and active adults intro to computers classes.
In Ontario all city passport services are temporarily suspended, effective Monday, March 16; and in accordance with the closure of Colony High School, the Lewis Family Branch Library at the south end of the city will be closed until April 6.
Anyone other than senior citizens and staff are banned from Fontana’s senior citizens centers. The city has also imposed a ten-person limit in senior citizen vanpools.
The City of Yucaipa is postponing civic events and other mass gatherings through May, including a rodeo, Community Emergency Response Team training courses, an event previously billed as the Emergency Preparedness Expo, and its State of the City event, along with the Yucaipa Music and Arts Festival. At the city’s highly-touted Performing Arts Center, ticket sales are to be limited to no more than 250 to reduce attendance at performances.
This week, in many shopping venues such as grocery stores and department stores, there has been and continues to be a mad crush of humanity, with tens of thousands of people coming into close proximity with one another as they make their way through crowded aisles and wait in long lines, a situation rife with the possibility of the disease spreading. Most of the crowding was a result of panic buying of foodstuffs, bottled water and personal items such as toilet paper, precautionary action in anticipation that the disease will result in a large-scale crisis.
For many, the hysteria attending the outbreak of cornonavirus is perplexing. While there has been some criticism leveled at officialdom for having made an inadequate response to the threat the disease represents, some have expressed dismay at the degree to which the various levels of government have in their action prompted what some consider to be an overreaction to the situation.
A historical perspective is useful. In 1918 and 1919, the Spanish influenza outbreak caught the entirety of the world flatfooted. That flu pandemic proved to be the deadliest in history, and infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide, equal to one-third of the human population at that time, death from which claimed at least 20 million and as many as 50 million, including some 675,000 Americans.
At the low end, those suffering from Spanish influenza had a mortality rate of 4 percent, and at the high end those inflicted with Spanish Influenza had a mortality rate of 10 percent.
It is difficult to draw comparisons to the Coronavirus because it has not been fully defined or evaluated by epidemiologists, and as such, quantification of the disease at present is tentative and unreliable.
The World Health Organization has referred to coronavirus as a subset of “a large family of viruses.” Though there is less than perfect clarity, the contagion at large now is believed to be a version slugged as COVID-19. Unreliable data holds that as of March 11, over 125,000 people worldwide had contracted the disease with certainty, that being those definitively diagnosed with COVID-19. Of those, 4,605 had died. The most serious outbreaks have occurred in China, Iran and Italy, with instances of the disease in at least 118 other countries. Health facilities and accurate testing is uneven country to country, rendering data unreliable. Based on the above-referenced numbers, those infected with the strain of coronavirus the world is dealing with now have a mortality rate of 3.684 percent. Statisticians believe the spread of the disease is wider than the 125,000 so far accounted for, likely making the mortality rate lower than the aforementioned 3.684 percent. Nevertheless, the killing potential for the condition has dictated that health professionals and the various organs and ministries of public health formulate a response.
It is believed that coronavirus represents far less of a mortal threat to those with intact and healthy immune systems than those with compromised, weakened or dysfunctional immune systems. The very young, the elderly and those with conditions or taking medications impacting immune reaction are likely at moderate to grave danger. For the majority of those contracting the condition, the symptoms are relatively mild, sometimes described as virtually imperceptible and more commonly comparable to a light cold, with coughing and nasal congestion, a sore throat, shortness of breath, potential fatigue, body aches, and diarrhea. Some fever that is associated with the condition might reflect an accompanying and not necessarily related infection. At the more extreme end, the symptoms will manifest in what is labeled Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which can be fatal.
Meanwhile, in San Bernardino County, in contrast to neighboring Los Angeles County where there have been confirmed cases of COVID-19, no such diagnoses have been made as of this morning. There were some reports of infection that either turned out to be negative upon testing or which have otherwise not been verified. A University of Redlands student was for a time thought to have contracted the disease, prompting concern about those who had been in contact with the student, including others on the campus and the medical professionals rendering treatment. It turned out the student was not infected. There was a report early this week that two people at San Antonio Regional Hospital in Upland were quarantined for COVID-19. Thereafter, however, the county’s website reported that there were zero cases known within the county.
-Mark Gutglueck

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