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San Bernardino Residents Cope With More COVID-19 Closures

National Headquarters  |  September 11, 2020
Fast food restaurants clearly post preventive measures while staying in business. Photo / Jennifer Chien

Written by Jennifer Chien
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska

California’s reopening in phases allowed restaurants, gyms, cinemas, hair salons, and nail salons to resume operations on May 22. However, beginning in mid-June, the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases was rising sharply every day. In response, early in July, California ordered the temporary closure of indoor business sectors and encouraged restaurants as well as beauty and nail salons to serve customers outdoors.

The state’s reopening of business sectors briefly made everyone feel excited that the pandemic was over. Yet with more temporary closures on the horizon, once again, everyone had to shoulder stress and uncertainty as no one knows what the future holds.

Small business owners are increasingly pessimistic about help from banks, suppliers, local government, or even their clients’ loyalty as the shifts in COVID-19 response directives continue to impact their survival. Many stores shuttered for good after California issued the second wave of coronavirus closures, which will affect the service industry’s job market yet again. As for California residents, they are facing their own challenges.

Marina Rivera is upset about California’s looming second lockdown after record daily rises of coronavirus cases. Photo / Jennifer Chien
Amalia Esparza faces a continuous struggle with playing bills due to reduced working hours during the pandemic. Photo / Jennifer Chien

Preparing for a Second Wave of Closures in San Bernardino County

Signs about business closures and preventive regulations can be seen everywhere in San Bernardino County, illustrating the economic depression. Photo / Jennifer Chien

In San Bernardino County, a low-income community where most residents held manual labor service jobs, the situation is particularly grave. Workers here have suffered the most due to the pandemic’s impact on the service industry. Still, this community’s dominantly Latino residents are optimistic, hard-working people who continue to brave California’s reopening and closures with steadfast resolve, and hope.

Patrick Skans, one resident, supports the state’s decision on closing indoor business sectors temporarily yet again. He’s grateful that officials took immediate action because it’s the only way to reduce a further increase of coronavirus infections in the community. He described how a bar at the intersection near his house had reopened, and many people went in for drinks every night without masks or maintaining a social distance. He reasoned that without intervention, there is a strong possibility of increases in confirmed cases.

Patrick Skans agrees that the state should order another temporary closure of indoor business sectors to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Photo / Jennifer Chien

Luis Iniguez, who has raised two children with his wife, expressed his concern about the pandemic’s outcome, not knowing what to expect when looking ahead, especially since he has been unemployed for more than a month. Fortunately, his family takes preventive measures by wearing masks, washing hands frequently, and going out less often, and so they are all doing well without any signs of infection. Although he’s worried that the second wave of temporary closures may affect his job search, he understands that this is best for everyone’s protection.

Luis Iniguez, a resident who is currently unemployed due to the pandemic, understands why the state announced a second temporary closure of indoor business sectors. Photo / Jennifer Chien

Pedro Alvarez, another San Bernardino resident, shared that it’s frustrating to see California continue imposing closures of schools and business sectors. Still, he said that he’d rather have his kid stay at home with online classes than return to school because no one can guarantee students’ safety once they’re back in the classroom.

Pedro Alvarez (middle) agrees that schools should remain closed and children can continue learning via online classes. Photo / Jennifer Chien

Every resident our volunteers met while providing distributions of food or other aid in the area had their circumstances to share. Richard Salbiua, the only member of his family who still has a job, even found reasons to be grateful and upbeat. Although his working hours were fewer, it was still better than his wife’s situation, as she used to work as a dental assistant and was now unemployed due to the closures. 

Richard Salbia believes that it’s necessary to be optimistic and hold on during this challenging time. Photo / Jennifer Chien

Olga Sanchez, who lives with her son and grandson, said that the outbreak has affected her family and made her feel helpless. She has no other choice but to adapt to the current situation, no matter how challenging it may be. Having received food at a distribution at Juanita B Jones Elementary School in San Bernardino, she was grateful that organizations like Tzu Chi USA exist, giving love and care during the pandemic.

Life is filled with pain and suffering, but also with hope and love.

Jing Si Aphorism, Master Cheng Yen

Please support our Together While Apart, Compassion for the Long Haul campaign to help struggling families like these. Your love will empower Tzu Chi USA to provide cash cards, grocery bags, personal protective equipment, and more to help individuals and families in urgent need during this historic crisis.

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