VICTORVILLE, Calif. – Today, the City of Victorville announced that it has declared a local emergency as a proactive measure to help ensure the City has financial resources and legal authority to institute protective measures aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“At this time, there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the High Desert; but this is a rapidly-evolving situation,” said Victorville Mayor, Gloria Garcia. “Declaring a local emergency now will enable us to take bold steps to help protect our community with necessary human and financial resources.”
Declaration of a local emergency in accordance with its municipal code, enables the City to seek reimbursement for its expenses associated with COVID-19 from federal and state entities.
Garcia says concern for the City’s homeless population factored heavily in the City’s decision. Victorville has the second-highest homeless population in the County of San Bernardino according to recent Point in Time Counts. According to the Center for Disease and Control, unsheltered individuals are at greater risk of exposure due to inadequate sanitation and the lack of good hygiene, which are essential to reducing the spread of COVID-19.
“We want to afford our homeless population the resources needed to practice the public health hygiene and social distancing recommended by the Center for Disease Control,” according to Garcia. “In order to protect this vulnerable population and reduce potential spread of the virus in our community, we will need to expend City resources to increase sanitation and hygiene.”
In accordance with CDC guidelines, the City is in the process of securing portable restrooms, trash dumpsters, and hand washing stations to be located in locations most frequented by the City’s homeless population.
City officials are also working with local shelters and homeless service agencies to institute added precautions. Currently, the three local homeless shelters have stopped taking new occupants until effective screening can be implemented to protect occupants and staff. City staff is procuring medical instruments for these shelters to check temperatures during the intake process in accordance with CDC guidelines. Additional guidelines being implemented are three-foot distance between bunks in sleeping quarters; and the City is in active discussions with the operator of the local warming shelter to allow for 24-hour service to further aid this vulnerable population, which has a propensity for underlying ailments and compromised immune systems.
The City’s emergency declaration closely follows emergency declarations at the state, county and federal level. Also today, the Acting Health Officer for the County of San Bernardino announced the County’s third confirmed case of COVID-19 and ordered the cancellation of gatherings of any size within San Bernardino County along with the closure of all movie theatres gyms, health clubs, bars, adult entertainment establishments, and other businesses that serve alcohol but do not serve food.
“For the protection of our community and to help reduce spread of COVID-19, I urge our local businesses and residents to follow the latest directives from the San Bernardino County Public Health Department,” said Garcia. “These are unprecedented times, and all of us must do our part to practice public health hygiene and social distancing. Together, we will remain a strong Victorville.”
March 15, the City of Victorville announced that it would be closing City facilities to public access as well as its events, activities and classes as a precautionary measure effective March 16 through March 30. City employees continue to work and carryout essential City functions such as public safety, water and sewer, customer service and more. Phone and online customer service options are available. Information about these remote customer service options, a full listing of City facilities and programs affected by the closing, and helpful resources are available on the City’s website at VictorvilleCA.gov/coronavirus.
The City of Victorville is closely monitoring the coronavirus situation; and City leaders are communicating with federal, state, and county public health agencies. Garcia assures that the City “stands ready” to take additional necessary precautions for the community.
Because this is a rapidly evolving situation, City officials recommend community members follow guidance offered by public health agencies such as the San Bernardino County Public Health Department, California Department of Public Health, and the Center for Disease Control.
(City of Victorville news release)