17 CASES OF CORONAVIRUS IN SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, 1 IN YUCCA VALLEY

At least one of the 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in San Bernardino County is in Yucca Valley, according to Brigadier General Roger Turner of the Twentynine Palms Combat Center. In a Facebook post Friday evening, Turner said that the confirmed case was a civilian from Yucca Valley who had no connection to the Marine Corps base. No other information about the patient was released. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in San Bernardino County nearly doubled Friday, as four new cases were reported Friday, and then nearly doubled again Sunday with eight more cases, bringing the total to 17. There are no deaths attributed to COVID-19 in this county, although in neighboring Riverside county, there are six deaths and 25 confirmed cases. San Bernardino County Acting Public Health Officer Dr. Erin Gustafson said, “There is a fairly even distribution of cases throughout our county. No one should assume the virus is not present in their community. We must presume and behave as if the virus is everywhere.” Hi-Desert Medical Center CEO Karen Faulis told Z107.7 News that the county is managing all the COVID-19 cases.

ROADS AND CAMPGROUNDS CLOSED IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

Joshua Tree National Park closed all roads and campgrounds in the park as of noon Saturday, March 21. Park Superintendent David Smith said visitors can still hike or bicycle in and use the park’s trails, but the gates into the park are closed. Wilderness access using the Covington Flats Road as well as the entrances to Berdoo Canyon, Pinkham Canyon, Thermal Canyon, and Long Canyon remain open. Backcountry permits will not be required for the use of these areas and overnight backcountry camping is permitted.

Additionally, urban trail access at the Oasis of Mara, the California Riding and Hiking Trail, Rattlesnake Canyon, Eureka Peak and the High View Nature Trail as accessed via Black Rock campground will remain open. 

Displaced car campers can take advantage of open camping areas on public lands adjacent to the park and managed by the Bureau of Land Management as well as local private RV parks.

It’s not known how long the park closure will last.

LOCAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL GIVES INFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19

The chief nursing officer from the Hi-Desert Medical Center was the guest on Friday’s Up Close Show. David Cooke took calls live on the air about how to avoid COVID-19, what to expect if you contract the virus, treatment, and much more. Managing editor Tami Roleff has the highlights from the show…

Chief Nursing Officer David Cooke

“The [COVID-19] virus is a highly contagious virus; it is easily transmitted through touch, through droplets. If you touch a surface that has been contaminated, it is transmitted to your mouth, your face, through your nose, very quickly, so it’s really important to wash your hands frequently and often and avoid touching your face.”

David Cooke, the chief nursing officer and chief operating officer at Hi-Desert Medical Center, said the symptoms to watch for are similar to the common cold.

“The common signs and symptoms you would look for would be a very sore throat, very dry, non-productive cough, fever.”

He said it’s easily transmitted because virus can be transmitted before people know they are sick and people are still contagious while they are sick. And even when people are infected with COVID-19, many think they just have a common cold.

There are no treatments for the virus yet; Cooke said doctors just treat the symptoms much as they would a cold.

“The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to quarantine yourself. It’s important that you wipe down your surfaces, washing your hand frequently.”

MANY LOCALS UNHAPPY WITH INFLUX OF OUT-OF-TOWNERS

Since many people are not working due to the coronavirus, or are telecommuting from home, thousands of people have been coming to the Morongo Basin for a variety of reasons. Some own second homes here and want to escape the madness of city life; others think they are less likely to contract the virus in a rural area. Every end-of-the-world book and movie has people fleeing the cities and escaping to the middle of nowhere. Many Morongo Basin residents, however, are furious that out-of-towners are coming to their small towns. Some feel the out-of-towners are buying up all the supplies in stores, could potentially endanger and infect residents with the virus, and are especially angry about the non-locals blocking traffic and parking on the shoulders of the roads going into Joshua Tree National Park, which is closed to all vehicle traffic, traipsing through private property and even trying to set up camp in backyards. The governor’s stay-at-home order urges people to stay in their own homes, but it allows people to go outside and exercise, as long as they practice social distancing. We want to hear from you; go to our Facebook page, Morongo Basin Broadcasting, and tell us what you think as a comment to this story.

SHORT-TERM RENTALS ADVISED TO COMPLY WITH HEALTH ORDERS

The County of San Bernardino has received numerous complaints that short-term vacation rentals are continuing to operate, particularly in the Joshua Tree area. The County says these rentals are in clear violation of state and county public health orders that prohibit their operation. Lodging facilities may not operate unless they are housing infrastructure workers, or unless leased by the state or county to house confirmed COVID-19 patients. County officials say these short-term rentals must cease operations immediately; bookings for the foreseeable future must be canceled; no new arrivals may be processed; no reservations should be accepted until the state and county’s orders are rescinded; and any guests currently in rentals must be told to return home. Violation of state and county health orders are crimes punishable by fines, imprisonment, or both.