Anza residents cope with coronavirus quarantine

Jayme Millslagle enjoys a socially distanced quarantine dinner with her daughter. Anza Valley Outlook/Courtesy photo

While the coronavirus ravages great swaths of the nation, residents of the Anza Valley are making the best of the new normal designed to keep them safe. Staying at home, avoiding social events, wearing mandatory masks in public and sanitizing every surface are required health mandates in effect to protect everyone’s health.

Anza residents are rising to the challenge. From making face masks for others, collecting and distributing food and toiletries to those in need and keeping in touch with neighbors, people are still connecting and coping well.

“I have been blessed in having Anza help me,” Darla Mungar said. “The stores are open so I don’t have to go to Temecula. I had my heart repaired years ago, so I’m trying to stay home. We’ve been working on weeds and cleaning the land. We have also been calling and looking in on friends and family. I depend on Facebook for updates on all this as I watch my grandbaby so her mom can help you all at the Circle K in town. I’m very thankful for friends and I love our town.”

Joanne Salazar is making masks for the Riverside County sheriff’s department. Anza Valley Outlook/Courtesy photo

Some people have applied their skills for sewing to assist total strangers with the mask requirement. Many residents are puzzled as to where to purchase a face mask and what kind to buy. Social media are connecting them with those who can help.

“I’m having a friend of mine sew masks, and I’m buying them from her so she has an income and giving the masks away to people up here,” Cindy Kelly said.

“I’ve been making masks, and the ones I made today are for the sheriff’s department,” Joanne Salazar said.

Kelly Brenz and many others are also making face masks, especially since Dr. Cameron Kaiser, public health officer of Riverside County, ordered residents to wear a face covering when leaving their homes. These can be homemade face masks, bandanas, scarves, neck gaiters or other clothing without any visible holes.

“At my age of 79 and retired, I have no issue of staying home and I do, except for shopping for food and necessities,” Don Williamson said. “I recognize the dangers of COVID-19 and do believe that everyone should wear a mask out with the public so that anyone that may unknowingly be carrying the virus may not infect others.”

Preparation has been the key for many people in the Anza Valley to cope effectively with the mandatory stay at home orders.

“I think that many of us, myself included, are used to not having many of the conveniences that we would take for granted if we lived down the hill, like restaurants and stores on every corner,” Denise Squires said. “It makes us more cognizant of the need to have essentials on hand. I have a full freezer and lots of home-canned food on hand. I feel we are in good shape. The fires a couple of summers ago really drove home the need to be prepared.”

Susan Rae said, “Luckily for us, the new quarantine regulations don’t affect us too much. We are fairly self-sufficient, and we work online from home. My husband and I try to go off the hill to shop approximately once a month, so we buy dried foods, rice, beans, pasta, canned goods, as well as frozen food and stock up our freezer. We are not keen on large social gatherings. So, all in all, the restrictions are less of an impediment and more of a reinforcement of our chosen way of life. My husband is resourceful, inventive and very capable of getting whatever he needs to do accomplished.”

Resilience is one of the qualities most observed in community conversations. Making the best of a difficult situation is also a theme popping up on social media, which is serving as a sort of virtual gathering place now more than ever.

“I am taking advantage of all the overtime my work is offering – anywhere from 50 to 60 hours a week. My daughter was at my dad’s when this outbreak started and since he is high risk not only with his age but his numerous health issues, it was the safest to keep her there and for me to keep my distance, especially since my work has had a couple people positive so far,” Jayme Millslagle of Aguanga said.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at