MORONGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT TEMPORARILY CLOSING COHORT CLASSES

The Morongo Unified School District has temporarily suspended all small-group classrooms, identified as Cohorts, beginning Saturday, November 21. The closure comes amidst a recent rise in San Bernardino County COVID-19 cases combined with positive COVID-19 test results within the school district and gathering risks associated with the pending holidays. Cohort classes will remain closed after the Thanksgiving break and are tentatively scheduled to resume at the beginning of the semester on January 19, 2021, conditions permitting. The school district will continue to provide students with their educational programs through distance learning. The school district is urging everyone to continue social distancing, wearing face coverings, and completing disinfection procedures via state and health department guidelines to prevent further spread of the virus. MUSD will continue to send updates as the tentative date for returning to in-school instruction approaches.

STATE ORDERS LIMITED STAY-AT-HOME CURFEW AMIDST COVID-19 SURGE

The state Thursday announced a curfew limiting the nighttime movements of more than 90% of Californians. The order, intended to deal with a worrying surge in coronavirus cases, requires most non-essential work, movement, and gatherings to stop between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. During that time, people can still do a limited number of activities outside of their home, including going to the grocery store or drug store, walking their pets, and getting takeout from a restaurant. People from the same household are allowed to venture out together after 10 p.m. as long as they don’t interact with anyone else. The order goes into effect 10 p.m. Saturday. It applies to counties in the purple tier, which includes 41 of the state’s 58 counties, including San Bernardino and all Southern California counties.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said, “The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before, and we must do it again.”

The order does not apply to people without housing. There is no mention in the order of how the curfew will be enforced.

COUNTY EXTENDS COVID-COMPLIANT BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP

In an effort to support as many businesses as possible that are dealing with state public health restrictions and the arrival of colder weather, the County of San Bernardino has announced an extension of the COVID-Compliant Business Partnership Program with increased funding and adjusted eligibility criteria. Hilary Sloane has more information…

“It is looking to be a tough winter for our business owners who have been working so hard to stay open within strict operating restrictions and safety measures,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “We wanted to do everything we could to assist owners in offsetting some of their expenses, and that meant allowing businesses to receive more funds and increasing eligibility so that even more could participate.”

Businesses or nonprofits with fewer than 100 employees and that have been in business prior to January 1, 2020 are now eligible to receive the funding, providing they demonstrate continued compliance with state/county public health orders, and incorporate safety and social distancing practices and measures in their business operations.

The amount funded for these operations is now $5,000 for an initial location and $2,000 for each additional location, with an additional amount of $2,500 for any business that is relocating operations to outdoors. For businesses that participated in the program earlier this year, they will receive additional funding to bring their total allotment to these new levels. Short-term rentals and private schools are excluded from additional funding.

“When the program expired at the end of October, we recognized we still had a balance that hadn’t been claimed,” said Luther Snoke, Chief Operating Officer for the County. “So many of our local restaurants and businesses are going to be impacted by the colder months ahead, and we wanted to make sure we gave our businesses every opportunity to get what they could out this program.”

Interested businesses that have not previously applied have until Dec. 13 to apply for the funds. To date, 5,125 entities have been funded, and nearly $12.5 million has been distributed to eligible small businesses or nonprofits. For those who already applied, the County will be contact them in the very near future to coordinate the additional funding.

COUNTY SETS NEW RECORD FOR COVID-19 CASES

San Bernardino County set a new one-day record, 2,020, for new coronavirus cases as COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to soar in data posted Thursday (Nov. 19). Also, the number of new cases in the past week, 8,471, also set a record and is 412% higher than the seven-day total from a month ago. As of Wednesday (Nov. 18), 439 confirmed COVID-19 patients were in county hospitals, the most since Aug. 15, with 119 of those patients in intensive care. The number of hospitalizations is up 142% from a month ago, when just 181 coronavirus patients were hospitalized. The 76,252 test results returned in the past week also marks a new record, but the increase in testing is not solely responsible for the rise in cases, since the percentage of tests coming back positive continues to rise.

Here in the Morongo Basin we have had 653 confirmed cases and 32 deaths: Yucca Valley with 317 cases and 24 deaths; Twentynine Palms with 158 cases and two deaths; Joshua Tree 107 cases and four deaths; Morongo Valley 54 cases and one death; Landers with 15 cases and one death; and Pioneertown with two cases.

Here are the latest numbers for San Bernardino County

Confirmed cases: 80,318 total, up 2,020 from Wednesday, averaging 1,210 reported per day in the past week

Deaths: 1,124 total, up six from Wednesday, averaging 4.0 reported per day in the past week

Hospital survey: 439 confirmed and 57 suspected patients hospitalized Wednesday, including 119 confirmed and 8 suspected patients in the ICU, with 25 of 25 facilities reporting. The number of confirmed patients is up 45.4% from a week earlier.

People tested: 973,948 total, up 12,537 from Wednesday, averaging 10,893 reported per day in the past week

Resolved cases (estimate): 71,319 total, up 721 from Wednesday, averaging 706 per day in the past week

Reopening plan tier: Purple (widespread risk level, many non-essential indoor business operations are closed) based on these metrics as of Monday:

New cases per day per 100,000 residents: 27.6

Case rate adjusted for testing volume: 27.0

Test positivity rate: 10.5% (9.3% in socioeconomically challenged neighborhoods)

What’s next: San Bernardino County is not meeting the criteria to move to a less-restrictive tier. When it has met them for two consecutive weeks, it can advance.

YUCCA VALLEY PLANNING COMMISSION CONTINUES HEARING ON FAST-FOOD PROJECT, ALDI’S INTERESTED

Yucca Valley Planning Commissioners heard a proposal Tuesday about a new project to be built in the parking lot of the Stater Brother’s on the east end of town. Managing editor Tami Roleff reviews the meeting…

The Yucca Valley Planning Commissioners heard about a 5200-square foot, four-unit fast-food project to be built in the parking lot of the Stater Brothers-east grocery store. The project will include a Domino’s, with a drive-through lane for pizza pick-up, and possibly Jersey Mike’s on the other end. The other two units do not have tenants yet. The commissioners asked that the developer revise its landscaping plan and to revise its exterior design so the building is more attractive. However, the developer was not at the meeting, so action was postponed to a later date.

Commissioners also learned that Aldi’s grocery store is interested in coming in to the Warren Vista Shopping Center, behind Rite-Aid.

And the commissioners unanimously approved a native plant permit request to remove five Mojave yuccas and three junipers from 9270 Fortuna Avenue.