Another case of COVID-19 was reported Monday in the Idyllwild-Pine Cove area by the Riverside University Health System (RUHS) website, bringing the total to five cases in the area since the initial case was reported on April 3.

Riverside County gave the following response when asked how many of the five people infected with COVID-19 have recovered: “The recovery data is collected without noting city. At this point, that information is not available.”

As of press time May 19, Riverside County has 6,053 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There are 270 deaths related to COVID-19 and 3,871 people have recovered. There are 195 individuals being hospitalized and of those 68 are in ICU.

Riverside County COVID-19 statistics as of Tuesday afternoon, May 19. See the latest information at: https://www.rivcoph.org/coronavirus?fbclid=IwAR0PGHRL6PNsK29lXSq8aSQVl4QHu8UeEFb_HaSLwPyXjriEEjxxU0BO65M
Chart courtesy Riverside University Health System

As of press time May 12, Riverside County had 5,248 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There were 225 deaths related to COVID-19 and 2,911 people had recovered. There were 185 individuals being hospitalized and of those 69 were in ICU.

As of May 5, Riverside County had 4,454 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There were 184 deaths related to COVID-19 and 1,997 people had recovered. There were 215 individuals being hospitalized and of those 75 were in ICU.

To date, 86,600 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Riverside County, according to RUHS. 

The age range with the most confirmed cases in the county is still those between the ages of 40 and 64.  

The county released the following: “In a May 14 letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, Riverside County supervisors said the county has the ability to ‘meet, exceed or plan to achieve’ six of the seven criteria described by the governor to accelerate through the current Stage 2 of the economic expansion plan into the next level. Among the criteria, the county has a plan to protect Stage 1 essential workers; created ample testing capacity; demonstrated the ability to protect vulnerable populations; developed a plan to expand contact tracing capabilities; and exceeded a minimum of 35% surge capacity in the county’s health system. 

“The county is currently at stage two of the governor’s reopening plan, which allows for curbside delivery and pick up of some retail businesses. The county is requesting to move to the governor’s accelerated stage two, which would open additional businesses.

  “In the letter, the county is asking a variance on the epidemiological benchmarks outlined by the state, particularly a requirement that there be no COVID-19 death for a 14-day period.

“In our opinion, the metrics are unrealistic for urban counties, and Riverside County in particular, where our geographic size and population make it impossible that no COVID-19 deaths would take place during the 14-day period. Instead, the letter states, it is appropriate to adopt the federal epidemiology benchmarks, which the county is already achieving because of a downward trend in data.

“The Board of Supervisors on May 12 unanimously approved its Readiness and Reopening Framework, which officials described as a commonsense plan that meets both goals of protecting our public health and restoring the economy.”

According to the state’s covid19.ca.gov at press time, the following are not permitted to operate at this time:

Personal services such as hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and fitness studios

 Hospitality services, such as bars, wineries, tasting rooms and lounges

Entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, gaming facilities, and pro sports 

Indoor museums, kids’ museums and gallery spaces, zoos and libraries

Community centers, public pools, playgrounds and picnic areas

Religious services and cultural ceremonies

Nightclubs

Concert venues

Live audience sports

Festivals

Theme parks

Hotels/lodging for leisure and tourism

The governor is using six key health and scientific indicators that will be considered before modifying the state’s Stay-at-Home order to allow additional Stage 2 activity. Those six indicators are:

The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed;

The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19;

The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges;

The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand;

The ability for businesses, schools, and childcare facilities to support physical distancing; and

The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the Stay-at-Home orders, if necessary.

Counties have the ability to move through Stage 2 more swiftly but must submit a written attestation to the California Department of Public Health outlining how the county has met the criteria set by the state.

Staying cool during the Stay-at-Home order

Riverside County is encouraging seniors to run their air conditioners as temperatures reach triple digits. The county said that those who reach out to the Office of Aging will be able to receive assistance in paying for their utility bills. The cooling centers are not open due to restrictions imposed by efforts to decrease the spread of COVID-19. Seniors are also encouraged to call 2-1-1 if they are without an air conditioner to see if assistance can be provided.  

Food assistance

For those needing to connect with food resources, visit https://rivcoph.org/coronavirus and select “Food Access” at the top right for a county map directing you to food pantries, senior and school meals. 

The County of Riverside created the Courtesy Pantry program to serve seniors and adults with disabilities who are unable to get food for themselves at this time. This program is available to those 60 years of age and over and adults with disabilities. You must live in Riverside County. Call 800-510-2020 to see if you qualify. 

Riverside County is asking restaurants to participate in the “Great Plates Delivered” program aimed at providing meals for at-risk seniors who are limiting their exposure to COVID-19 by staying home. Restaurants are encouraged to provide their own delivery (drivers must pass a background check paid for by the restaurant) but may utilize Grubhub, Postmates, DoorDash and Uber Eats. 

Restaurants must be in good standing with Environmental Health Restaurant Grade and become a vendor with the County of Riverside. 

Visit https://www.rcaging.org/COVID-19/Great-Plates-Delivered-Program for further details. 

Behavioral health

For those in need of behavioral health assistance, you may utilize a computer and smartphone app called TakeMyHand.co. You may also contact 2-1-1 or call the behavioral health CARES line at 800-706-7500. A 24/7 free, confidential crisis or suicide intervention service can be reached at 951-686-HELP (4357).

Economic Recovery Task Force

Riverside County launched an economic recovery task force that is expected to be in place for 18 months to provide recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on restarting the local economy.

“Representing each of the five supervisorial districts and regions of the county, the task force draws upon the established business expertise and resources from local chambers of commerce, tourism bureaus, industry leaders and public sector partners,” a press release from the county stated. “County staff members from the Economic Development Department and Transportation and Land Management Agency will work alongside the task force to support the critically important objectives of the task force.”

Fraud alert

Riverside County sent out the following warning to those who receive cash aid, CalFresh and Medi-Cal benefits: “State and county public social services officials are warning about a fake letter circulating on social media that falsely claims customers must be tested for COVID-19 to continue receiving benefits such as cash aid, CalFresh and Medi-Cal.

“The letter bearing the seal of the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) also falsely claims that children will be removed from parents who test positive for COVID-19 and placed into foster care,” the press release reads. “Riverside County, state and county health services departments will never ask about health status in connection to an application for benefits. Children will not be removed from parents who happen to test positive for the coronavirus or COVID-19.”

Anyone with helpful information about the source of the letter is asked to contact CDSS at 916-651-8848 or piar@dss.ca.gov. 

If you need to apply for benefits such as cash aid, food and medical assistance, visit C4Yourself.com or call the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) Customer Service Center at 877-410-8827.

COVID-19 testing

COVID-19 testing has been expanded to those without symptoms and the county is encouraging teens and young adults to get tested. 

Residents need to call 800-945-6171 to make an appointment over the phone for testing at all five drive-up locations — Coachella Valley, Harvest Christian Fellowship church in Riverside, Perris Fairgrounds, Blythe Fairgrounds and Lake Elsinore. Those seeking tests at the Lake Elsinore (state testing site) location are encouraged to use the website https://www.projectbaseline.com/study/covid-19/ for appointments but may use the above-mentioned phone number. In addition to the drive-up testing sites mentioned above, there are now two county walk-up testing sites. One is located at Crossword Christian Church in Moreno Valley, and the other, at the Cathedral City Public Library. The two sites will operate Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

More state testing sites are operational in Riverside County. To make an appointment, visit https://lhi.care/covidtesting or call 888-634-1123. Testing is available for everyone, regardless of insurance or immigration status, and is no cost to the resident, according to the May 5 press release. The eight additional state testing locations are in Perris (two), Norco, Mecca, Riverside, Beaumont, Desert Hot Springs and Hemet. 

“Testing is for everyone, regardless of immigration status, and it is free. I encourage everyone to make an appointment, get tested and help our county and state continue to make progress on this crucial aspect of our coronavirus efforts,” said Riverside County Board Chair and Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez.

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. 

Fern Creek Medical Center in Idyllwild now offers a COVID-19 antibody test.

Local entities update

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

Idyllwild Area Historical Society: This year’s Home Tour is canceled. 

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. 

Idyllwild HELP Center and Thrift store: Check their Facebook page for updates.

Idyllwild Library: The library is closed to the public. 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 June 7 and will continue to be renewed as needed so no late fees incur. The library is not accepting any book returns and will not accept any items left on the curb. Book donations have been suspended until the library reopens. The library is hosting a Zoom Book Chat on Thursday, May 21 at 2 p.m. Visit the library’s Facebook page for details. 

Idyllwild Pharmacy: Contact the pharmacy at 961-659-2135 or by sending an email to idyllwildpharmacy@verizon.net to request prescriptions or over-the-counter items. Check the Idyllwild Pharmacy Facebook page for updates on hours. 

Idyllwild Shuttle: The current schedule is as follows: Door-to-Door service from Pine Cove to Mountain Center is provided Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is transportation to Palm Desert and Palm Springs on Mondays via Mountain Center. Transportation to Hemet via Mountain Center is provided on Wednesdays. To get transportation to the food share at Mountain Center on Thursdays, meet at the HELP Center at noon. Reservations are required. Call 951-426-9688 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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 (lisa@towncrier.com) or Mandy Johnson (mandy@towncrier.com) and for editorial questions contact Melissa Diaz Hernandez (melissa@towncrier.com). 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.

Lake Hemet Campground: Day use and RV camping allowed as of May 1. Visit https://lakehemetrecreation.com/ for guidelines. 

Pine Cove Water District: The district’s office is closed. The May 13 board of directors meeting was rescheduled to May 20 at 10 a.m.

Riverside County offices: Visit county department websites or call for updates and 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) Regional parks, trails and open-space areas are open for day-use activities, including fishing. Sports parks, nature centers, event centers and historic sites remain closed to the public. 

State parks: Visit www.parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve for a list of closures. Online learning resources are also available for K-12 students. 

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 is now open for take-out with pick-up and limited delivery as of Friday, May 15. The menu is on the restaurant’s Facebook page and hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday. 

Manzanita Cantina & Grill and Tommy’s Kitchen are closed until further notice.

All the following restaurants and food purveyors will be doing to-go orders: Café Aroma, 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, Mamma Mia Crepes & Desserts, Mile High Cafe, Mountain Center Cafe and The Red Kettle. 

Instruction 

Hemet Unified School District 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. Teachers have now set up video conferencing software to communicate with students for distance learning.

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 per child.