Fairway Market employees line up and get artistic to remind shoppers to wear masks for everyone’s protection.
Photo by Jenny Kirchner

With Riverside University Health System (RUHS) reporting three confirmed COVID-19 cases for Idyllwild-Pine Cove, residents continue to express concern about visitors bringing the virus to town. 

As of April 14 at 1 p.m., Riverside County has 1,961 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Fifty people have died and 376 people have recovered. 

As of April 7 at 1 p.m., the county had 1,016 confirmed cases, 28 deaths with 67 individuals having recovered. 

The California Highway Patrol San Gorgonio Pass hosted a virtual Coffee with a Cop via livestream on Facebook on Thursday, April 9. Public Information Officer Matt Napier (left) and Capt. Mike Alvarez (right) hosted the coffee.   Image courtesy of California Highway Patrol San Gorgonio Pass

When the Town Crier went to press on Tuesday, March 31 there were 371 confirmed cases, 13 deaths and 30 individuals had recovered. 

To date, more than 29,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Riverside County, according to Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser. The age range with the most confirmed cases in the county is still those between the ages of 40 and 64. 

During the April 14 RUHS press conference, Riverside County Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton gave the following update on hospital capacity: In the 17 acute care hospitals in Riverside County, 60% of the beds are currently occupied. There are 218 ventilators in use and 274 available. There are 255 isolation beds in use and 124 available. There are 252 patients in ICU with 109 beds available. There are 249 negative pressure rooms in use and 386 available. 

According to a press release issued April 14 by the county, “Specialized teams designed to educate and equip employees at licensed care facilities throughout Riverside County will start visiting the locations today.

Idyllwild Fire Protection District receiving food boxes to distribute out to people throughout the community. Mark Yardas, Mara Schoner and Josh Whitney also contributed their time. Photo courtesy of Idyllwild Fire Protection District

“The four SOS (Skilled Nursing Facilities Outreach Support) teams consist of workers from American Medical Response and other healthcare partners who could be involved in patient care,” said Kim Saruwatari, director of public health. “The teams will target specific regions — Northwest, Southwest, Central and Eastern — in the county and work with staff members at each facility to demonstrate proper safety techniques, provide proper safety gear and educate them about COVID-19 to dispel rumors and correct erroneous information.

“There has been so much incorrect information that has spread that many employees in these facilities are scared to show up for work,” said Saruwatari. “Information is power and by providing these employees with accurate information about how COVID-19 is and is not spread, they will be confident when they report to work.”

The press release also reveals: “80 patients, including 34 who had earlier tested positive for COVID-19, were evacuated from the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and transferred to different locations throughout the county.”

The county allowed drive-in church services to occur over the Easter weekend. 

The Idyllwild Fire Protection District is taking measures to protect the community from exposure to COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends first responders use a ‘N-95 or higher-level respirator or facemask (if a respirator is not available), eye protection, a single pair of disposable patient examination gloves and isolation gown.’ The department implemented these measures on March 9. 
Photo courtesy of Idyllwild Fire Protection District

Enforcement  

An order was issued by Kaiser stating that people could be fined or arrested for congregating of any size in public and not wearing a face covering. This order runs through April 30.   

“This is a valid order and enforceable by fine, imprisonment or both,” said Sheriff Chad Bianco in a message he posted on social media last week. “However, I need to make it perfectly clear to all residents of Riverside County. We will not be setting up any type of police state and this is not a declaration of martial law in Riverside County. Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies will not be stopping vehicles or setting checkpoints for motorists. We will not be stopping you while on a walk with your kids or while you’re out running or hiking.” 

Bianco also stated during his message: “Your deputies, police officers, dispatchers, fire and EMS personnel are here around the clock ensuring your safety and protection during this trying time. If we must respond to violations of this order, our ability to respond to emergencies and critical calls for service will be greatly impacted.

“Cover your faces, stay at home unless absolutely necessary and help out your neighbors as much as possible. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for me. Do it for my family. Do it for your family. Stay home, stay safe and together we will get through this,” Bianco concluded.  

In addition, during a recent Riverside University Health System press conference the comment was made that the county was looking at cellphone data and noticed people aren’t traveling (moving around) as much. When asked about it, Riverside University Health System Public Information Officer Brooke Federico responded: “Some of this is available on Unacast, where counties are graded for their social distancing. In addition, Google created a California mobility report here: https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/.”

If you see nonessential businesses operating at this time, you are able to report them to the county. 

  Complaints should be made to [email protected] or 951-351-6866. 

“The fastest way for people to get attention to their complaint is to go through that website and/or phone number,” said Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington’s Chief-of-Staff Michelle DeArmond. “They need to be prepared to provide detailed information on the location.”

COVID-19 testing

Residents may still call 800-945-6171 to make an appointment over the phone for testing in the Coachella Valley and Harvest Christian Fellowship church in Riverside. Those seeking tests at the Lake Elsinore location are encouraged to use the website https://www.projectbaseline.com/study/covid-19/ for appointments but may use the above-mentioned phone number. A fourth testing site opened up at the Perris Fairgrounds Tuesday. You must have symptoms and an appointment to show up to the drive-up test sites. Some of the symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose or congestion. Those who have risk of exposure may also be tested, which means exposure to a confirmed case. 

Shields were install at Fairway Market Tuesday afternoon to protect employees.    Photos by Jenny Kirchner

The newspaper reached out to county health to find out how far out appointments were being made before we went to print last week. Several people contacted the newspaper saying it was taking two weeks to get tested. We still have not heard back. 

Hemet Global Medical Center opened the first private COVID-19 drive-up testing site in Riverside County. You can make an appointment by calling 951-765-4757. 

Local entities update

Animal Rescue Friends (ARF): The annual Paws for Rhythm and Brews craft beer festival has been canceled. The event was set to take place early June. 

Fern Valley Water District: The office is closed to the public. 

Idyllwild Community Center: ICC has closed all of its programs (including sports, senior fitness and childcare) for the time being.

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. See photo on page A2.

Idyllwild HELP Center and Thrift store: The thrift store is closed until April 30 and not accepting donations at this time. Check their Facebook page for updates.

Idyllwild Library: The library is closed to the public until April 30. All online services are still up and running. Staff are available for Live Chat or Ask a Librarian reference from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday through the Riverside County Library System website at http://www.rivlib.info. Branches are currently not answering phones. All books currently checked out are being automatically renewed through at least April 30. 

Idyllwild Pharmacy: Contact the pharmacy at 961-659-2135 or by sending an email to idyllwildpharm[email protected] to request prescriptions or over-the-counter items. Check the Idyllwild Pharmacy Facebook page for updates on hours. 

Idyllwild Town Crier: The newspaper is still open, but our office is closed to the public. Printing, faxing and all in-person services are on hold until our office can reopen. For advertising information, contact Lisa Streeter ([email protected]) or Mandy Johnson ([email protected]) and for editorial questions contact Melissa Diaz Hernandez ([email protected]). We’re answering the main phone line at 951-659-2145 during regular business hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Newspapers will be available to purchase from a newsstand at our office at 54405 N. Circle Dr. and at Village and Fairway markets.

Idyllwild Water District: The district’s office is closed to the public.  

Pine Cove Water District: The district’s office is closed. 

Riverside County offices: Most county buildings are closed to in-person visits. County government will continue to perform the vital services relied upon by residents and visitors. Visit county department websites or call for assistance on how to complete requests online, over the phone or through the mail. 

Riverside County Parks: Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District (RivCoParks) closed recreation facilities, nature centers, historic sites, parks headquarters, open-space areas and regional parks to the public. 

State parks: All campgrounds, museums and visitors centers are closed and all events are canceled until further notice. Some parks are closed, including parking. All vehicle access is closed for all remaining parks. 

Grocery store supplier delivery schedules

(There have been delivery delays, so please be patient.)

Fairway Market: Dry goods, meats, deli, frozen food, paper goods and candy are delivered on Tuesdays but will be Thursday this week. 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.

Restaurants

Restaurant Gastrognome and Café Aroma are closed until further notice. 

All the following restaurants and food purveyors will be doing to-go orders: Coyote Red’s, Candy Cupboard, Ferro, Fratello’s, Idyllwild Brewpub, Idy Sushi Roll, Idyllwild Ice Cream & Jerky, Idyllwild Pizza Company, La Casita, The Lumber Mill, Tommy’s Kitchen, Mamma Mia Crepes & Desserts, Manzanita Cantina & Grill, Mile High Cafe, Mountain Center Cafe and The Red Kettle. 

Schools

Idyllwild Arts Academy: Students returned home. Virtual instruction began earlier this month. 

Hemet Unified School District: (Information updated as of press time.) 

The county has ordered schools to be shut down through June 19. This closure includes all extra-curricular activities, afterschool programs and district-sponsored events during this time. Visit the district website (https://www.hemetusd.org/) for updates.  

Instruction 

HUSD is providing guidance with supplementary resources, digital and non-digital (work packets that can be picked up with the lunch/breakfast), 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. Visit hemetlearnstogether.org.

Nutrition

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 Wednesdays only from 9-10:30 a.m. You will receive 10 meals (breakfast and lunch) per child for the week. 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.