10,407 Confirmed Cases (up 4% from the previous day)
245 Deaths (up 4.7% from the previous day)
114,640 Tested (up 2.7% from the previous day)
For more statistics from the COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard, click the desktop or mobile tab on the County’s sbcovid19.com website.
Despite COVID-19, Ontario Airport Remains Critical Economic Engine for County
Mark Thorpe is the CEO for Ontario International Airport Authority. He shared the impacts of COVID-19 on air operations and plans for recovery and reopening.
Ontario International Airport (ONT) headed into 2020 as America’s fastest-growing airport two years running and as one of the busiest cargo airports in the world, fortifying our role as an important economic engine for San Bernardino County, the Inland Empire and Southern California.
Then came COVID-19, which impacted airports across the U.S. as domestic and international air travel declined sharply. ONT was no exception, recording significantly lower passenger volumes in March, April and May as business and leisure travelers largely stayed home. Even so, there is a growing sense of confidence that passenger traffic will pick up in the coming months as the post-pandemic recovery takes root, and based on flight schedules published by our airline partners, we share that optimism.
In the meantime, cargo shipments through ONT have increased dramatically through the pandemic, underscoring the critical role our region plays in logistics and the supply chain. Our freight volumes have grown more than 20 percent in each of the past three months, fueled by a surge in e-commerce as shoppers stayed at home. In May alone, more than 81,000 tons of commercial freight passed through ONT – up 24 percent from the same month a year ago.
These kinds of historic gains are encouraging news for our County and region as we begin to recover from the economic damage caused by COVID-19. When it comes to logistics and supply chain management, the Inland Empire has a distinct competitive advantage. We’re ideally located, and have the infrastructure and talent pool to handle the growing demand for product and goods shipments.
Through the efforts of our regional economic development agencies, colleges and universities, and groups such as Inland Economic Growth and Opportunity (IEGO), the Inland Empire is developing the partnerships and systems to become a global innovation hub – bringing more business and even better jobs to the region.
We feel Ontario Airport plays an important role in all of this, and look forward to our continued partnerships with our local business community and stakeholder groups.
We also look forward to the return of the kind of passenger travel that made ONT the fastest growing airport in the country. To that end, we’ve taken industry-leading steps to ensure the health and safety of its passengers, visitors and employees, including the use of high-tech sprayers and a highly effective disinfectant to sanitize all touch points within the airport, new passenger screening trays treated with powerful antimicrobial technology, new escalators with self-sterilizing UV-C light technology and clearly posted social distancing guidelines.
COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on our industry and our economy, but we’re doing everything in our power to weather these very turbulent times as we look forward to an equally strong recovery.
A Deeper Look at San Bernardino International Airport
Michael Burrows is executive director for San Bernardino International Airport (SBD). SBD was once the Norton Air Force Base (NAFB) until it was closed during the 1988 round of military base closures. The closure of NAFB created a loss of 10,000 direct jobs and more than $1.9 billion in economic output to the local economy. Now close to 13,000 new jobs have been created at SBD, with just over $2.7 billion in economic output for the region. Michael shares more about that effort, and how SBD is positioned for the future.
What has helped drive job creation at SBD?
Fueling the redevelopment effort at and around the airport has been a flagship public-private partnership with Hillwood resulting in over 15 million square feet of new commercial development. Called AllianceCalifornia, it recently added a fourth Amazon facility, which rounds out a host of Fortune 50, 100 and 500 companies operating in the Inland Empire. We now have over 4 million square feet of Amazon e-commerce facilities, alone.
UPS started flying cargo at SBD in 2017, and they put us on the map. FedEx followed and added a FedEx ground facility as well. We now have our largest expansion underway — a 100-acre Amazon Air regional air hub, a $300 million investment that will add up to 26 flights a day. With Amazon Air, we will have the three largest air cargo carriers in the U.S. flying out of SBD.
How does SBD benefit the community?
We’re home to fantastic public safety facilities such as the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Aviation Department Headquarters, including search and rescue, medical response and aircraft maintenance teams. We have the U.S.D.A. Forest Service Fire Tanker Base, a critical regional asset, and the San Bernardino Regional Emergency Training Center where we train and certify aircraft firefighters.
As we strive to create new aviation jobs, I cannot say enough about the San Bernardino County Workforce Development team and their support for current and new businesses. We have partnerships with the educational sector which helps expose younger generations to careers in aviation related fields. There are many jobs other than pilot or flight crew member that a high school student isn’t necessarily going to think about. We help students cross-train in administration, operations, aircraft rescue, firefighting training, and even security and maintenance so that they see what skill sets they might need and how they can grow professionally.
Bringing career opportunities to the region is a big part of our community responsibility. We have returned nearly 13,000 jobs to the region and we anticipate the Amazon Air Regional Air Hub employing 1,700 people when it becomes operational towards the end of the year. At full operation, it will employ over 3,800 individuals.
How are you supporting COVID impacts?
Our international customs clearance capability provides charter options, particularly to our healthcare community, for transport of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential cargo. When companies are struggling to get product in and out of the LA basin, airports like Ontario and SBD are here to provide support. When capacity gets tight, as it has during COVID-19, you need relief valves to get vital merchandise and equipment to the regions that need it most.
An airport is an economic anchor, in good times and bad, and that’s part of our job. Whether it’s a medical aid flight, corporate charter, aerial firefighting tanker, or an air cargo operation, that’s what we’re here to support.
We’re currently assisting Delta Airlines with aircraft storage and maintenance during the pandemic. Our team provides all the fueling, services and hospitality to each of these customers. Whether you’re a small plane or a commercial aircraft, our staff will treat you like gold particularly in times like this. Even though they’re wearing masks, there are smiling faces behind them.
San Bernardino County Transportation Authority
The San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) is responsible for cooperative regional planning and furthering an efficient multi-modal transportation system for San Bernardino County. Ray Wolfe, executive director for SBCTA, shared more on COVID impacts and new and in-progress projects.
Can you give us a snapshot of the current scope of SBCTA?
SBCTA is currently delivering on its largest program in the agency’s history. Actively bringing more than $4 billion in transportation improvements to help people and goods move to and through our county, SBCTA is proud of introducing multi-modal solutions to our growing population.
We are addressing the current demand in both roadway and transit through projects like the I-10 Express Lanes, the US 395 Widening, and upcoming Arrow rail service that will connect the east valley to transit options that reach all of Southern California.
We are also addressing the next generation of transportation needs. The SBCTA team is bringing the first zero-emission, self-powered train to North America, facilitating real change to the way passenger rail travel operates for years to come. The innovative spirit thrives in San Bernardino County as we look at this and other emerging technologies to deliver on our promises in a faster, less-expensive, and environmentally-friendly way.
What are your priority projects at the moment – has COVID impacted or helped in terms of moving these projects forward?
Providing an excellent transportation system warrants the designation as an essential sector. So, when it comes to identifying our priorities, the Board of Directors continues to do an outstanding job of making sure staff has the tools and the direction it needs to treat every project we deliver as if it is the only one.
Our approach has not wavered during concern from COVID-19. However, given the financial strain this pandemic has placed on both the State and Federal governments, we should be prepared for the impact it might have on some our funding sources going forward. In the meantime, SBCTA will continue to look to innovation for how we can deliver projects in the most effective way possible.
What can residents expect when they travel with SBCTA?
SBCTA supports our partners in transit as they offer outstanding, safe, and effective services throughout the County. From buses to rail, the demand for transit choices continues to grow and our transit providers look for more ways to step up to that challenge. When someone steps out of their car and into the transit world in San Bernardino County, they can expect a safe, clean, courteous experience as they reach the various destinations we serve.
COVID-Compliant Program Informational Webinar
The San Bernardino Economic Development Department and SBDC is hosting its second information webinar on the COVID-Compliant Business Partnership Program. The webinar will take place at 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 25. Join us to get your questions answered and to learn more about this helpful program. Register here for the session.