Riverside County announced Monday that there is a delay in reporting case numbers, giving the impression that the spread of COVID-19 is slowing. 

Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said “electronic laboratory reporting is not being submitted to CalREDIE’s system in a real-time manner. Riverside County’s positive cases in recent days may appear that the numbers are holding steady or flattening, but that’s simply not true.” 

“This is an integration, technical issue,” Saruwatari said. “Simply put, there is a significant lag in how the information is being fed into the system. We’re anticipating significant increases in case reporting this week.”

According to the press release issued by the county, “The California Department of Public Health informed public health departments of the delay in an e-mail on Friday (Aug. 1). Today [Aug. 3], the CDPH informed local agencies that it is committed to resolving the issue as quickly as possible and has ‘urgently escalated this issue to leadership.’”

As of press time, there are a total of 17 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 17 total cases are active since the area’s first reported case on April 3.  

As of press time on Aug. 4, Riverside County has 38,487 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There are 738 deaths related to COVID-19 and 20,079 people have recovered. There are 424 individuals being hospitalized and of those 133 are in the intensive care unit (ICU). The county contacted the Town Crier before press time to give the corrected hospitalization number of 424, not 450, which is what is on the RUHS website.

     As of press time on July 28, Riverside County had 35,910 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There were 672 deaths related to COVID-19 and 12,489 people had recovered. There were 487 individuals being hospitalized and of those 143 were in the 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.

To date, 375,518 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. 

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 still on the state’s COVID-19 watch list due to the increase of case numbers and hospitalizations. 

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 www.rivcoph.org/coronavirus/testing 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 https://lhi.care/covidtesting or call 888-634-1123.  

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

Schools update

HUSD will serve students lunch and breakfast at no charge for students enrolled at Hamilton School, Hamilton High School, Idyllwild School, Academy of Innovations and Hemet High. Details to follow. 

The district announced a couple weeks ago that “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. 

The district confirmed that HUSD students who need a device will be provided with one. Parents/guardians of Idyllwild Elementary School students can pick up a Chromebook and school materials at room 2 on Wednesday, Aug. 5. Middle school parents/guardians should go to the school on Thursday, Aug. 6 for their student’s Chromebook and materials.

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 with fewer than 300 students starting Oct. 1 if the governor’s orders have changed. 


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 https://covid19.ca.gov/industry-guidance/. Visit www.RivCoBiz.org 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 https://rivcoccsd.org/covidbizhelp, 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, https://www.cciarts.org/California_Relief_Fund.html.

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 https://cerfplus.org/cerf-covid-19-relief-grant/?org=808&lvl=100&ite=2296&lea=2345238&ctr=0&par=1&trk= for details. 

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. 

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).

Staying cool 

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

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 http://www.rivlib.info. 

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: Call the district office for updates at 951-659-2675.

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 www.parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve for updated information.