A day after the city of Fontana declared a local emergency over coronavirus concerns, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health recorded and announced the first case of novel coronavirus in the county.

    According to Dr. Erin Gustafson, acting county health officer, the first patient is a 53-year-old woman who was treated at the Kaiser Permanente hospital in Fontana. The unidentified woman returned from London sometime last week, began showing symptoms and tested at Quest Diagnostics on Thursday, March 12. The results were positive.

    “We knew it was only a matter of time before we recorded our first case,” said Gustafson. “This does not change our level of readiness and alert because the county is in a state of emergency. We are prepared from a public health standpoint, and our residents, cities, businesses and other key communities have been informed about safe practices.”

    On Saturday, March 14, the Fontana City Council declared a local emergency aimed at limiting the risk of spreading COVID-19.  Four days earlier, on Tuesday, March 10, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors declared a local health emergency to help ensure county government and the public would be prepared for the possibility that coronavirus would appear within the county.

Despite that, Gustafson said that the health risk from COVID-19 to the general public in the county “remains low at this time,” but everyone is strongly urged to engage in practices that reduce the risk of spread.

County health authorities said they are working to identify the patient’s contacts to monitor them for signs and symptoms of the illness and to take measures to prevent transmission.

On Thursday, March 12, county spokesman David Wert told the Redlands Community News that the county had conducted between 30 and 40 tests.  All had been negative.  

“The county does not know how many tests have been conducted by private health care providers within the county. They are required to report only if they have a positive test. None have reported,” said Wert then.

Federal, state and local authorities have called for the immediate cancellation of events where hundreds of people would meet to avoid the spread. They also have called and continue calling for people to remain calm on a continuing basis. 

However, panic has taken over in most of the state and region with people flocking the stores in mass hysteria over the past few days, emptying shelves, particularly of hygienic paper products.  

According to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, over the weekend the number of COVID-19 cases increased by 16 to reach 69. The increase forced Mayor Eric Garcetti on Sunday, March 15, to announce an emergency action to close bars, nightclubs, restaurants, entertainment venues and gyms to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

Over the weekend, the number of COVID-19 cases in Riverside County also increased to 14 total with most of the patients living in the Coachella Valley region.