LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — What was intended to be a small gathering at Loma Linda University over the weekend turned into a huge event that law enforcement officials had to shut down.
The university’s on-campus Seventh Day Adventist church planned a drive-thru car show that the city and hospitals had been aware of, but not at such a large capacity.
Between 10 to 20 cars were expected to show, but through social media, about 3,000 people got word of the event and packed the area surrounding the university’s hospital, violating the state’s ban on mass gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
Many people who came out to the event were wearing masks but others were not, and the large crowd of attendees spilled into the street, making it harder for first responders to access the emergency room.
“Loma Linda is a city built on healthcare, so it runs completely counter to everything the city is here for and stands for,” said Assistant City Manager Konrad Bolowich.
Many people have been hoping for relaxed coronavirus restrictions and when people got wind of this event, it quickly spiraled out of control.
Bolowich said while the gathering was not acceptable and could turn out to be a super-spreader, it’s understandable with a “bunch of kids being in lockdown for six months.”
Loma Linda University Church said the following in a statement to the community:
“We have worked tirelessly with our partners in healthcare ane government to maintain care and wisdom during this pandemic. We failed to anticipate that the event would grow so far beyond what we had planned.”
Sheriff’s deputies were getting calls about the packed event but it took hours to clear everyone out.
Most people appeared to be among a younger demographic, which lines up with the age group of 20 to 29-year-olds that San Bernardino County health officials are reporting the most coronavirus cases.
On Monday, San Bernardino County health officials reported 729 newly confirmed cases over the weekend, bringing the countywide total to 56,400 cases.