The 2020/21 school year will begin with online education. Both the Hemet Unified School District (HUSD) and Idyllwild Arts Academy have released preliminary plans. 

As of press time, there are a total of 11 reported cases since the outbreak and no deaths reported for the area of Idyllwild-Pine Cove, according to the Riverside University Health System – Public Health (RUHS) website. 

Because Riverside County is unable to provide recovery data by area, it is unknown how many of the 11 total cases are active since the area’s first reported case on April 3. According to Riverside County Public Health on Friday, July 24, it is taking between seven and nine days to receive test results. 

Data for Riverside County. Click here for the current totals.
Courtesy of Riverside University - Riverside Public Health

As of press time on July 28, Riverside County has 35,910 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There are 672 deaths related to COVID-19 and 12,489 people have recovered. There are 487 individuals being hospitalized and of those 143 are in the intensive care unit (ICU).

As of press time on July 21, Riverside County had 30,890 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There were 589 deaths related to COVID-19 and 11,058 people had recovered. There were 536 individuals being hospitalized and of those 135 were in the ICU.

As of press time on July 14, Riverside County had 26,481 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There were 553 deaths related to COVID-19 and 9,893 people had recovered. There were 536 individuals being hospitalized and of those 136 were in the ICU.

To date, 361,065 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Riverside County, according to RUHS. The age range with the most confirmed cases is 18- to 39-year-olds. The two demographics with the highest number of cases are Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latino. 

A team of federal doctors and nurses have been at Eisenhower Health since July 16 to assist with the hospital’s influx of coronavirus patients.  

The county is urging residents and visitors to follow the state’s face covering requirement in common and public indoor spaces and outdoors when distancing is not possible. In addition to covering your face, the county also urges everyone to keep 6 feet of distance and wash their hands. The county is on the state’s COVID-19 watch list due to the increase of case numbers and hospitalizations. The county is giving away 10 million masks that “will be distributed by local nonprofits working in the community, as well as houses of worship, senior meal delivery programs and local businesses. In addition, everyone who visits a county or state-run testing location, will receive masks,” according to a press release. 

Riverside County health officials remind all residents there is still a statewide stay-at-home order. Businesses had been allowed to reopen only to be shut down again. 

COVID-19 testing

COVID-19 testing is available for those with or without symptoms. Testing is free and available for everyone. 

Residents can visit to schedule an appointment online or call 800-945-6171 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. to make an appointment over the phone for drive-up testing. Looking for a shorter wait time when calling to make an appointment? The county suggests calling 

between the hours of 5 and 10 p.m.

State testing sites are also operational in Riverside County. To make an appointment, visit or call 888-634-1123.  

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

Schools update

HUSD set its reopening plan for the 2020/21 school year at its board meeting Tuesday, July 21. “Due to the guidance criteria, all schools (public, private, and charter) within Riverside County schools will not be permitted to return to school in a traditional manner,” the district released last week. “As such, HUSD will open the school year in a fully online learning model beginning Aug. 17, 2020.” The district has provided some options for low-cost internet through Spectrum and Frontier on its Parent Resource Center website. 

In addition, “HUSD’s online learning model will differ significantly from what was offered when schools closed in March. Students will receive a combination of live instruction provided by their teacher and independent projects, assignments, and activities.  Additional support will be provided for English learners, students with disabilities, foster students, and homeless youth. Our program will be designed to be substantially equivalent to in-person learning.” 

Idyllwild School will be reaching out to families in the coming weeks regarding the distribution of devices as well as expectations for attendance and grading. Additional communication will be sent to those families who completed the Academy of Innovation Online program interest form.“The Academy of Innovation is the HUSD’s blended learning school designated as an independent study program,” Alexandrea Sponheim, HUSD’s public information officer, wrote in an email responding to a question about student/teacher interaction in the Academy of Innovation program. “This allows for customized learning platforms year-round. When safety restrictions are removed and school begins to operate normally, the Academy of Innovation will continue to offer online learning for families and individuals. We will also offer the blended learning option where students attend classes a few days per week on site and complete a portion of work at home independently.

“The Academy of Innovation will offer online learners approximately 8 to 10 hours per week of scheduled live instruction with teachers and peers via virtual access on the computer. In addition, teachers will be available throughout the week to connect with students via email and virtual chat to support the independent learning requirements. This flexibility will support a number of learners desiring a year-long online experience that is flexible and consistent throughout the entire school year.” 

Sponheim confirmed that HUSD students who need a device will be provided with one. 

Idyllwild Arts Academy (IAA) students will begin the 2020/21 school year Aug. 31 with distance learning. Students may be able to return to campus starting Oct. 1 if the governor’s orders have changed with fewer than 300 students on campus. 

Once students are able to return to campus, IAA will “monitor the health situation and enable students to move through the day in family pods, academic classes will be entirely online when students first return to campus. This will reduce the number of teachers on campus and assist a smooth transition for students as they adjust to in-person instruction. In addition, certain arts classes focusing on theory or research may remain online, assisting the optimization of classroom, studio, and practice time.” 


In addition to the closure of all bars shortly after reopening, restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums, and cardrooms had to move business outdoors, and if unable, close their businesses once again.

Restaurants and other businesses may still do takeout but are not permitted to have indoor dining. 

Additional restrictions recently implemented include fitness centers and gyms, worship services, offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services, hair salons and barbershops, and malls.

The county said that these businesses may do curb-side retail, as long as there are no indoor operations. 

Riverside County has been able to keep the following open as of press time: investment properties for short-term rentals, destination retail stores including swap meets, casinos, hotels (for tourism and individual travel), racetracks, campgrounds and outdoor recreation. 

As a reminder, youth sports are still not permitted. 

For more information on state guidance, visit Visit for modifications and other measures encouraged by the county to keep employees, customers and clients safe. 

Small business grant funding 

Between now and Aug. 31, sole proprietors and those small businesses that received the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan or advance are now eligible for the second round of funding (up to $10,000) provided to small businesses that have been impacted during the coronavirus pandemic, the county explained in a press release. “The first round of funding for the small business program resulted in $7.3 million that will be distributed to 738 small businesses in Riverside County.” 

Funding is limited and not available to “businesses that have received federal funding through the Paycheck Protection Program. Awardees must also develop and implement a safe reopening plan that addresses employee and customer health prior to disbursement.” 

For information on how to apply, visit, and for questions, email [email protected] or call 951-955-0493.

Grants for artists

The Art Alliance of Idyllwild shared some additional grant information for artists. Nearly $1 million will be awarded in $1,000 grants to California artists through the California Relief Fund for Artists and Cultural Practitioners, a partnership between the California Arts Council and the Center for Cultural Innovation. The application deadline is Aug. 18. For more information, visit,

Another program is CERF+ (Craft Emergency Relief Fund, Inc.). This provides a one-time $1,000 grant to artists working in craft disciplines who are facing food, housing and medical insecurities caused by the pandemic. Priority will be given to eligible artists who have traditionally been underserved by the grant-making community. The deadline for the first round ended July 29, but a second round will accept applications from Aug. 19 to Sept 9. Visit for details. 

Food assistance

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

Behavioral health

For those in need of behavioral health assistance, you may utilize a computer and smartphone app called 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).

Staying cool 

Riverside County opened cooling centers with modifications to accommodate coronavirus safety guidelines. For a list of cooling center locations, visit

Local entities update

Art Walk & Wine Tasting: The event has been canceled. 

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

Idyllwild Area Historical Society: This year’s Home Tour is canceled, and the museum remains closed. 

Idyllwild Community Center: ICC has closed all of its programs (including sports, senior fitness and childcare) for the time being. The food distribution program is still occurring. The Farmers Market is back Sundays from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. outside at Town Hall, 25925 Cedar Street. 

Idyllwild Fire Protection District: The front office is open by appointment.  

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

Idyllwild Library: The library is open for express service only. The express service hours for Idyllwild Library are Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to noon. 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 

Idyllwild Pharmacy: The pharmacy is open. A face mask is required. 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. Call the day you need a ride. 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. If you are utilizing the shuttle, a face mask and hand sanitation is required. Off-Hill transportation is for medical appointments only. 

Idyllwild Summer Concert Series: The outdoor musical series has been canceled.

Idyllwild Town Crier: The office is closed to the public. For advertising information, contact Lisa Streeter ([email protected]) or Mandy Johnson ([email protected]) and for editorial questions contact Melissa Diaz Hernandez ([email protected]). Newspapers will be available to purchase in front of the new Town Crier office at 54391 Village Center Drive Suite #5, Idyllwild Pharmacy, Mountain Center and Pine Cove markets and at Village and Fairway markets, Mountain Top Liquor, the Idyllwild Chevron and Shell stations, and Lake Hemet Market.

Idyllwild Water District: The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Pine Cove Water District: The district’s office is closed to the public until further notice.

Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival: This was scheduled for Feb. 12 to 21, 2021, and has been canceled.

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.  

State parks: Visit for updated information.