Idyllwild School staff hands out breakfast and lunch meals on Tuesday. Photo by Melissa Diaz Hernandez

By Melissa Diaz Hernandez and Jenny Kirchner
Editor and Reporter/Photographer

Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser announced at Tuesday’s Riverside County Supervisors meeting that three deaths have occurred in the county as a result of COVID-19. Kaiser had issued a press release the evening prior stating that there were two deaths. 

As of the meeting, Kaiser told the board that the county had 15 confirmed cases but had a verbal positive test and were verifying so they expect the number to increase. 

“It is my personal belief that these indicators demonstrate that community spread both in Riverside generally and in certain areas specifically is imminent without immediate intervention,” Kaiser told the board.

Riverside County has 16 cases, and up until today’s announcement, nearly all the cases have been from the Coachella Valley, the county wrote in a press release sent out later that day.

“We knew getting west county cases was an inevitability,” said Kaiser. “The disease curve must be flattened, and that’s why we’re already intervening as early as possible so that our vulnerable residents are protected.”

According to the same press release, “Kaiser’s new health order restricts mass gatherings of 10 people or more, and orders that gatherings with fewer than 10 people must have enough available room to maintain six feet of space between attendees. This is known as social distancing. There are limited exemptions to the 10-person rule, including healthcare facilities, grocery stores and daycare centers. Because of the rules, restaurants would likely be limited to serving take-out.”

“The limit of 10 people in a space applies to many businesses, attractions and houses of worship,” said Kaiser. “That means restaurants can’t do dine-in: you’ll have to get take-out or drive-thru. 

That means services at churches, synagogues and mosques go online. That means some gyms and bars won’t be able to stay open at all. Minimize your trips, buy only what you need and stay home as you can. We need to flatten the curve of disease.”

The county will still allow childcare, grocery shopping and utility service to function, but eating establishments are now strictly take-out and delivery. Kaiser stated that classes and houses of worship are to move online and nonessential events should be postponed. School closures throughout the county are now extended through April 30. 

In a press release, Kaiser recommends that “senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions in the Coachella Valley avoid any non-essential travel.”

If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, call:
To speak to a nurse for an over-the-phone evaluation.

In Idyllwild

An individual in Idyllwild has been told to self-quarantine for two weeks by the county because there are not enough tests to go around at this time. The individual believes they have COVID-19 symptoms and went to Idyllwild Health Center on Monday. The clinic does not have any tests on site and, according to the individual, advised the patient to go to an emergency room. 

The individual contacted Eisenhower Medical Center and was told to wait because their testing is limited and they only want to take people who need to be hospitalized first. The individual was given a phone number for Riverside County Public Health that did not work. The newspaper reached out to county public health to get a better phone number and asked: Shouldn’t the information be at the top of the website and easy to access? 

The newspaper was told, “No.” However, it did obtain a phone number (951-955-6483). This number will put you in touch with a nurse for an over-the-phone evaluation. The nurse will give direction from there. The individual’s case was escalated by the nurse, according to this individual, and they heard back later that they needed to self-quarantine.

The newspaper contacted Eisenhower to see what was going on. The representative who answered the phone stated that the number the individual was given may not be working due to call volume. That number is for facilities that are open in the Coachella Valley to make an appointment for a COVID-19 test. 

The individual told the Town Crier the locations in town they had been in the last two weeks. Those locations are: Idyllwild Brewpub, Manzanita Cantina & Grill, Shell gas station, BBVA Compass, Idyllwild Post Office and Mountain Center Market. 

The newspaper called county public health to inquire what the community should do at this point. The newspaper did not receive a response by press time.

The newspaper has been unable to get ahold of Idyllwild Health Center by phone. 

As of Monday, March 16, Fern Creek Medical Center told the newspaper that they do not have any COVID-19 tests but have not had anyone come in with COVID-19 symptoms. They have had individuals come in with flu-like symptoms. Those individuals were swabbed and tests came back negative.   

All information below is as of press time and is subject to change.

Local entities

Fern Valley Water District: The office is closed to the public. The Friday, March 20 board meeting has been canceled.  

Idyllwild Community Center: ICC has decided based on guidance from Riverside County and the Centers for Disease Control to close all of its programs (including sports, senior fitness and childcare), as well as the Farmers Market, at least through the month of March.  

Idyllwild Fire Protection District: The front office is closed to the general public, but all administrative operations will stay the same, such as building permits and inspections. The district is operating business as usual. When responding to calls where patients exhibit COVID-19 and flu-like symptoms, personnel will be using personal protective equipment. The patient will be handed a mask to put on themselves and personnel will then evaluate the patient in the back of the ambulance. If personnel need to go inside a residence, they will limit the length of time they are inside. 

Idyllwild HELP Center and Thrift store: The store is closed until April 1 and not accepting donations at this time. The office will remain open for client services and food/supply donations from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday by appointment only. This is subject to change.

Idyllwild Library: The library is now closed to the public through April 30. All online services are still up and running. Library staff will be answering phones and will go to weekday hours only, but as of press time, those hours are unknown. All books currently checked out are being automatically renewed through at least April 30.   

Idyllwild School PTA smARTS Student Exhibition: The event at the Art Alliance of Idyllwild’s Courtyard Gallery has been canceled for March 21 and 22. 

Idyllwild Water District: The district’s office is still open to the public and the March 18 board meeting is still happening. 

Mountain Pottery: Pottery demonstrations and Artist on Art lecture will resume in May and Mountain Pottery will be closed to the public until April 1 or longer if warranted. Gift certificates for future pottery classes are available by phone. 

Pine Cove Water District: The district’s office is open but staff is limiting contact and asking customers to put payments through the door. 

Supervisor Washington’s Quarterly meeting: The supervisor’s office canceled the March 20 meeting at the library and is hoping to have the meeting on May 7. 

The paper goods aisle at Fairway Market on Tuesday after restocking their shelves that morning.
Photos by Halie Wilson

Grocery store supplier delivery schedules

Fairway Market: Dry goods, meats, deli, frozen food, paper goods and candy are delivered on Tuesdays. Wine, FritoLay and eggs are delivered on Wednesdays. Meats, bread, milk and organic foods are delivered on Fridays. Produce is delivered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

Village Market: Produce is delivered Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Meat is delivered on Wednesdays and Fridays. Everything else is delivered on Fridays.


(Note: This is information received as of press time.)

Café Aroma is offering 10% local discount

Tommy’s Kitchen has created a pre-order menu that will offer meals that can easily be heated in the oven to fit any schedule. Orders will be available for pick-up or if there’s a big enough order they will offer delivery for those.

Restaurant Gastrognome is offering 15% off all takeout orders.

Idyllwild Brewpub is closed through Wednesday this week and will offer take-out starting Thursday, March 19. 

All the following restaurants and food purveyors will be doing to-go orders: Candy Cupboard, Ferro, Fratello’s , 

Idy Sushi Roll, Idyllwild Ice Cream & Jerky, Idyllwild Pizza Company, La Casita, The Lumber Mill, Mamma Mia Crepes & Desserts, Manzanita Cantina & Grill, Mile High Café, Mountain Center Cafe, The Red Kettle. (Businesses not listed could not be reached by press time.)

Idyllwild Arts Academy 

Students began returning home Saturday. Instruction will begin virtually across four continents in April. Please see the ad on page A2 for more information.   

Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer acts as crossing guard at the school on Tuesday as families come to pick up breakfast and lunch meals made available for children under 18 in the Hemet Unified School District.
Photo by Melissa Diaz Hernandez

Hemet Unified School District update

Editor’s note: The press release was updated with the most current information received as of press time. 

The county has ordered schools to be shut down through April 30. This is an extension of the initial April 13 Hemet Unified School District (HUSD) return date. This closure includes all extra-curricular activities, afterschool programs and district-sponsored events during this time. This closure may result in adding instructional days to the end of the school year if required by the California Department of Education. 

This closure is for precautionary measures and currently there are no known cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in our district. These measures are to help slow the progression of the virus and protect our students, staff and community.

Hemet Unified School District understands that school closure affects all families and is committed to addressing the needs of all our students.


HUSD will provide guidance this week about supplementary resources, digital and non-digital, that can be used at home to review and reinforce knowledge and skills learned this school year. Students and families will not be required to use these resources but are welcome to do so. 


During district closure, Nutrition Services will provide breakfast and lunch meals free of charge to children 18 years of age and under. Breakfast and lunch will be served at the same time Monday through Friday at every school location from 11 a.m. to noon, except at the Western Center location. It is a drive/walk-thru type of meal service. 

For those driving, HUSD asks that you stay in your car and bagged meals will be provided for each child present. If you have students at multiple schools, you only need to visit one location. Children need to be present to get their meals.

During this closure, all sites will be cleaned and disinfected as a precautionary measure. 

Students should stay home and minimize social contact as much as possible to keep our community healthy. In particular, HUSD asks parents and students to be mindful of the guidance to avoid activities involving large gatherings.  

The district realizes this is a time of uneasiness for many students and families, and HUSD will be in touch with additional updates via Parentlink and the district website ( before the end of the spring break recess. HUSD continues to keep safety as our number one priority and remains committed to the well-being of our students and staff.