SAN BERNARDINO — Two more San Bernardino County residents were confirmed to have the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to five — and health officials say the number will keep growing.
Additional cases have been expected to emerge as private lab testing begins ramping up.
The county reported its first case on Sunday, identifying the patient as a woman who recently returned from London and sought care at a Fontana emergency room.
The second was a 54-year-old man with underlying health conditions who had come into contact with people who had recently traveled from Washington state.
The third was a man in his 50s.
By the time the fourth and fifth patients were confirmed, county officials had decided not to release information about who the patients are or where they live.
Public information officer David Wert said the county is not releasing patients’ names and ages to protect patient confidentiality.
“We’ve decided not to identify the location of each new case because all of us should assume and behave as if coronavirus is everywhere,” Wert said.
“We don’t want to create panic in one community and false complacency in other communities.”
He expects once the county has gotten several more cases, it may create a map to show the spread.
“We talked to the sheriff and he agreed identifying the communities could create panic that could create law enforcement issues,” Wert added.
After the third patient was confirmed Tuesday, the county’s acting health officer ordered the cancellation of gatherings of any number of people in the county through at least April 6, with exceptions for work, public transportation, airport travel, grocery stores, charitable food distribution, certified farmers markets and shopping at stores or malls.
The order also required the closing of all movie theaters, gyms, health clubs, bars and other businesses that serve alcohol but do not serve food.
Restaurants were ordered to comply with state orders to close in-house seating and open only for drive-through, pick-up and delivery options.
The order also strongly cautions that people 65 years and older and those of any age with certain underlying health conditions are at greater risk if they COVID-19, and encourages them to self-quarantine.
“Residents of San Bernardino County are encouraged to stay home as much as possible while only participating in essential activities, such as critical work functions and shopping for necessities,” said Acting County Health Officer Dr. Erin Gustafson.
“We know these measures are challenging, but social distancing will help to protect all of our communities. We encourage older adults and those with chronic medical conditions to take additional precautions to avoid getting sick.”