COVID-19 affects local businesses, schools and governments with cancellations, upgraded health and safety policies 

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Promenade Temecula stands empty of shoppers Thursday, March 12. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

LAST UPDATE: March 13, 8:55 a.m.

Editor’s note; Due to the high number of cancellations, Valley News will continue it’s coverage in a series of separate stories to include, education, sports, business, national, regional and cities. Be sure to watch myvalleynews.com for all COVID-19 updates.

As COVID-19 continues its spread across southern California and the country, many local businesses and organizations have begun to cancel activities or increased safety precautions to protect the public from the disease, which at this time has no cure.

Many of the cancellations came Thursday, March 12, after Gov. Gavin Newsom, late Wednesday, March 11, advised issued sweeping, statewide “guidance” in response to the coronavirus pandemic, asking Californians to postpone all nonessential gatherings through the end of March, including even small social gatherings in places where people can’t remain at least 6 feet apart.

A California Department of Public Health advisory issued shortly before midnight Wednesday, also says gatherings of 250 people or more should be postponed or cancelled, and gatherings of people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should be limited to no more than 10 people.

Riverside County public health officer orders large events canceled

Valley News/Courtesy photo

Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser ordered the cancellation of public gatherings of 250 people or more in Riverside County as a means of slowing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) Thursday, March 12.

The order mirrors recommendations issued Wednesday evening by the California Department of Public Health.

“These restrictions may seem harsh, given the relatively low number of coronavirus cases in Riverside County, but they are necessary if we are going to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Kaiser, who Sunday declared a public health emergency after announcing the county’s first locally acquired COVID-19 case.

Dr. Kaiser said county health officials had previously been working with community partners to establish guidelines for public gatherings.

County health officials are working with local school, city and nonprofit organizations to provide guidelines on how the new restrictions will be implemented.

At Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District (RivCoParks) the 4th Annual Youth Fishing Clinic scheduled for March 14, at Lake Skinner Recreation Area, Duck Daze scheduled for April 11, at Hidden Valley Nature Center and the Healthy Living Extravaganza scheduled for April 18, at Rancho Jurupa Regional Park have all been canceleed.

Other large gatherings at all RivCoPark sites will also be canceled thru April 30. RivCoPark sites include Hurkey Creek Park (Mountain Center), Idyllwild Park (Idyllwild), Lake Cahuilla Veterans Regional Park (LaQuinta), Lake Skinner Recreation Area (Winchester), Mayflower Regional Park (Blythe), McCall Memorial Equestrian Campground (Mountain Center) and Rancho Jurupa Regional Park (Jurupa Valley).

“We are uncertain at this time if or when these events might be rescheduled,” an emailed statement from RivCoParks said. “We urge residents to heed the advice of our public health officials and model best health practices such as washing your hands frequently and staying at home if you are sick.”

Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farms and Universal to close gates

Disneyland has announced that the theme park will be closing beginning Saturday, March 14, through the end of the month. The closure affects Disneyland and the California Adventure parks. Disney hotels will remain open through Monday. The parks will be closed through the end of the month Disneyland said in a statement.

Knott’s Berry Farm announced it will temporarily close through the end of the month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Park officials said in a statement they continue to follow guidance from local and state officials, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and “while there have been no confirmed cases of (coronavirus) at our properties, we believe this is the right decision for our guests, associates and community.”

The Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel will remain open. The park said it would work with guests who have prepaid tickets or booked rooms during the closure.

Meanwhile at Universal Studios Hollywood, officials announced the closure of that park just before 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12. The closure will take effect Saturday, March 14, when Universal will lock the gates — tentatively until March 28, depending on how COVID-19 develops.

City postponements and cancellations

Murrieta:

The city of Murrieta has canceled its Coffee with the City scheduled for March 24, and is advising residents to check its Facebook page as well as the city website to stay updated on the latest news of cancellations and postponements.

“Watch for postponements of some city events over the next few week as the city and some of its partners follow the CDC’s recommendation to limit nonessential public gatherings,” Murrieta said in a social media posting.

Murrieta has also postpond the Murrieta Citizens Academy classes on both March 12 and March 26, the 73rd Annual Murrieta Firefighters BBQ scheduled for April 19 and is postponing the B Street Station ribbon cutting ceremony scehduled for March 18.

Lake Elsinore:

The city of Lake Elsinore announced the cancellation of events some of which could be rescheduled for a later date. On the cancellation list is the Amazing Outlet Race – Saturday, March 21, Lake Elsinore Car Cruise – Saturday, April 4, Eggapalooza – Saturday, April 11, Unity in the Community 5k/10k Race – April 18, and Clean Extreme 2020: Downtown LE – Saturday, April 25.

In addition, the city is notifying all promoters and applicants who are planning privately held events in the city about Riverside County’s guidance for their consideration.

Lake Elsinore facilities including city parks, the Dream Extreme Neighborhood Center, Lake Community Center and the Lake Elsinore Senior Center remain open at this time.

Lake Elsinore staff will continue increased sanitation and hygiene protocols and will be closely monitoring all participants. Any attendee at a city facility that is exhibiting symptoms of sickness will be required to leave and advised that they should return home.

Menifee:

The city of Menifee continues to monitor the outbreak in coordination with the Riverside County Department of Public Health, the CDC and local and regional public health and healthcare agencies.

“The city of Menifee has developed an Emergency Operations Activation Level Plan, as a
response to good public health policy, which consists of a four-phase plan to coordinate
COVID-19 response activities by the City based on the orders received from the
Riverside County Department of Public Health’s postponing public gatherings of 250
people or more,” the city said in a statement

Due to the risk and orders issued by the county Menifee will postpone its March 28 Multicultural Festival, its April 4 Music and Arts Festival and its April 11 Spring Fest and Centennial Park Grand Opening.

Menifee, which also activated its Emergency Operartions Center, said it would continue to evaluate the status on city programs on a weekly basis, but for now other city programs would continue to operate as scheduled while staff follows all protocol and preventative recommendations and procedures, exercising good public health policy in the process.

Temecula:

The city of Temecula announced late Thursday that several city-sponsored events will be canceled and that every effort would be made to reschedule them if possible.

Affected are the Second Satuday event on Saturday, March 14 and the Temecula Valley Symphony youth concert at the Temecula CRC Amphitheater scheduled for Sunday, March 15. World Down Syndrome Awareness Day on March 21, Autism Awareness on April 2, Teen Egg Hunt on April 3, First Friday on April 4, Easter Egg Hunts on April 11, Second Saturday on April 11 and the Temecula Special Games on April 18 are all canceled or postponed.

All Old Town Temecula Community Theater’s main stage performances will be canceled through April 30.

Ronald H. Roberts Temecula Public Library will remain open to the public. Check www.temeculaca.gov/Library for a list of events that may be canceled in the coming days.

Wildomar:

The city of Wildomar continues to review the impacts of the Riverside County Health Officers’ Order to cancel all events with an expected attendance above 250 individuals.  While not yet canceled, the city has the Eggstravaganza Egg Hunt scheduled for April 4, and the Health Fair/ALS Run scheduled for April 18. both events are scheduled to take place at Marna O’Brien Park, residents can likely expect a postponement in the coming days.

There are no cancellations or postponements from the cities of Hemet and San Jacinto.

School District cancellations and postponements 

Temecula Valley Unified School District

A statement released by TVUSD representative Laura Boss late Thursday, March 12 announced the cancellation or postponement of all extracurricular activities.

“All Temecula Valley USD schools are postponing/canceling non-essential activities outside of regularly scheduled school hours,” Boss said. “This includes all civic center use, extra-curricular activities, events, athletic practices, and competitions. The timeframe this is to be in effect is March 12 through April 5, 2020.”

Since the actual order to limit gatherings from the county is until April 30, TVUSD will provide updated guidance prior to returning from Spring Break.

San Jacinto Unified School District

All nonessential to learning events for San Jacinto Unified School District have been postponed until a later date according to Dawn Morrison, a representative for the district said.

“At this point it is easier to list what is still happening,” she said. “School is still in session, parent teacher conferences and anything that is essential to learning is still happening.”

SJUSD expects to have a full listing of postponements on its website www.sanjacinto.k12.ca.us later in the day Thursday, March 12.

Hemet Unified School District

At Hemet Unified School District, all athletic competitions and banquets, Saturday School,
all student and staff trips/conferences, including trips to other schools within HUSD and all parent volunteer opportunities have been canceled.

HUSD was quick to point out that there has been no final decision made on graduations, grad nights and other such events. District personnel are meeting and making decisions based on information we have been provided by Riverside County Public Health and other government agencies.

“Governor Newsom identified that school is an essential gathering and as such things that are still in place are SAFE After School Program, tutoring after school, and athletic practices. The district’s reasoning behind these decisions is we have the capability of screening the health of students that are in our campus and are able to control the environment,” HUSD said in an email to parents.

“In addition, we as a District, are asking to restrict parents and community members on our campuses. This includes Friday Flag, parent volunteers, etc. This is to help slow down the spread of the virus,” the district said.

Parents of students are advised to check their respective district and school websites for any closures, cancellations or postponements.

Chambers of Commerce

The Murrieta Wildomar Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday, March 11, it would suspend all its activities “out of an abundance of caution” in response to the threat of COVID-19.

The move came after the chamber took part in a series of conference calls with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the White House, a press release issued by the agency said.

“Based on information we have received and out of an abundance of caution, we are suspending all events and programs,” the chamber said.

According to the press release, experts are saying that if large gathering events were suspended or changed over the next few weeks, it would provide a gap that could help to curtail the expansion of the virus.

“We appreciate your patience during this time and support of us being mindful of our communities’ health,” the chamber said. “We will continue to monitor the situation and will update you as we have more information.”

For the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce, it was business as usual as of the time of this posting.

TVCC has not made any changes to our meetings and event schedule (for meetings and events with fewer than 1,000 in attendance),” TVCC president and CEO Emily Falappino said. “We have, however, adopted extra precautions to safeguard our meeting environments and stop the spread of germs, using all of the great resources authoritative experts on the matter have endorsed.  This means our upcoming meetings and events will feature more precautions and extra touches to help keep the event free from germ spread.”

Falappino said TVCC is making it a priority to educate themselves with facts and “authoritative resources.”

“We’re making daily evaluations of the current and potential effects of COVID-19 within our community and our business economy,” she said. “At this time, TVCC wants to promote facts, take precautions, minimize risks and maintain life/business ‘as (close to) usual’ to the best of our abilities with consideration of all these factors. We are in close and frequent communications with local government, local hospitals, our biggest industry partners, and our small business community.”

Falappino said that the TVCC is nimble and prepared to make changes as necessary.

“TVCC will follow up with more resources and more frequent communications over this topic and the situation in our Valley,” she said.

In San Jacinto, the grand opening celebration for the new Wienerschnitzel has been resceduled for May 9.

The Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce, which said it is in close contact with the Riverside County Department of Health, has canceled or postponed all its March activities including afterhours mixers and nooner mixers.

“We had our 71st Annual Installation Dinner and Awards Ceremony scheduled for March 28th with 300 attendees but have chosen to reschedule for June 27,” Chamber president Kim Joseph Cousins said.
The Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber has also rescheduled its EDWC luncheon until May 21 at the Diamond Tap Room.
“We will reevaluate our position at the end of March and determine if our April Programs should continue with our normal operating pattern,” Cousins said. “We plan on staying in constant contact with members and non- member’s alike to provide information and guidance as developments unfold.”

For Travelers

Los Angeles International Airport officials said Thursday, that they will close the Central Terminal Area to the public every day between midnight and 5 a.m. to allow cleaning crews to perform maintenance; however, officials said this action is not a response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The nighttime closure policy has been in the works since well before the COVID-19 virus was discovered, LAX officials said, and although the closures are not a response to the virus, they will allow crews to better access all “high-contact” areas and restrooms for cleaning and sanitizing.

Regional cancellations and postponements

Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District is postponing all public gatherings of 250 people, or more, at all its facilities as a means of slowing the spread of COVID-19. Also postponed will be smaller events, sports, classes and meetings (per California Department of Public Health). All current and upcoming sport leagues, instructional classes and meetings are postponed until further notice, Valley-Wide said in an email to Valley News Thursday, March 12.

Pechanga Resort Casino has announced the postponement of three upcoming shows, including this weekend’s concerts by Ana Gabriel (March 13), Pitbull (March 15), and Chicago (March 15).

“We continue to very closely monitor developments around COVID-19 to take necessary precautionary measures and will make adjustments as warranted,” the casino said.

Any guests who purchased tickets to these shows online will receive an email from Ticketmaster and they may opt to receive a refund in that manner. If they purchased them in person or via phone through Pechanga Resort Casino, guests may also receive a refund. Tickets will also be honored if new dates for any of the shows can be determined.

Meanwhile at Temecula Promenade it’s business, although slow business, as usual.

Temecula Promenade stands empty of shoppers Thursday, March 12. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

“Our top priority portfolio-wide is to maintain a safe environment,” Senior Public Relations & Social Media Specialist Rachel Willie said. “We’ve been closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 outbreak across the country and what it means for our employees, tenants, and customer communities where we operate. This includes taking the necessary precautions and following guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and local Departments of Health.”

Willie said the mall is working closely with housekeeping vendors to increase the focus, frequency and intensity of cleaning protocols.

“We are disinfecting high traffic, touchable areas in all of our shopping centers,” she said. “This includes the restrooms, food court furnishings, all doors, railings, escalators, elevators, restrooms, children’s play areas and even within the parking garages. Furthermore, we’ve added hand sanitizing stations throughout our properties.”

Officials at the Los Angeles Zoo announced the zoo will close to the public, effective Friday, March 13, through March 31. Zoo employees will continue to report to work as normal, in order to care for the animals and the facility.

A zoo official notes that at this time, there’s no indication that the coronavirus is of immediate concern to any of the zoo animals.

Anaheim officials announced Thursday that Gatherings at the Anaheim Convention Center have been postponed through the end of the month to comply with a state directive to cancel events with 250 or more people during the coronavirus outbreak.

In Arcadia, while races will still take place with “the personnel necessary to ensure the safety of the horses and integrity of the sport, Santa Anita Park closed to the public, including for simulcast wagering and morning workouts. Santa Anita’s Clocker’s Corner and Tram Tours are also closed.

Performances of the hit musical “Hamilton” at the Pantages Theatre Hollywood have now been suspended through March 31. The musical’s opening night was scheduled for tonight.

In San Diego, San Diego State University announced Thursday morning it was suspending all spring sports due to its concerns over coronavirus. The suspension includes all games, practices and other team activities scheduled for this weekend. The Mountain West Conference will suspend spring sports, as well.

Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation’s annual ShamROCK Irish Music Festival scheduled for this weekend has been canceled.

Also on the regional front, the PAC12 canceled both its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The men’s tournament had been scheduled to begin Thursday, March 12, at Honda Center with four quarterfinal games, which were to be played without spectators. The women’s tournament had been scheduled to resume Friday at Honda Center with two semifinal games.

An array of Southland theaters have announced cancellations of performances due to coronavirus fears including the Center Theatre Group’s performances of “The Book of
Mormon,” “The Antipodes” and Block Party at the Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper
Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre. The Music Center has canceled all performances at the Ahmanson Theatre, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum and Walt Disney Concert
Hall, including the REDCAT theater. With the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion closing, LA Opera has canceled Saturday’s performance of “Roberto Devereux,” and the Pasadena Conservatory of Music has canceled all performances through April 5.

Both the Los Angeles County Air Show, which was scheduled for March 21-22, and March Air Field Air & Space Expo scheduled for March 28 and 29 have been canceled.

On Tuesday, March 10, organizers of the Coachella and Stagecoach Music festivals announced the postponement of the popular festivals until October.

“At the direction of the county of Riverside and local health authorities, we must sadly confirm the rescheduling of Coachella and Stagecoach due to COVID-19 concerns,” a statement released by Goldenvoice, the events’ promoter, said. “While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty, we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously.”

According to Goldenvoice, Coachella was rescheduled for Oct. 9-11 and Oct. 16-18, while Stagecoach will be held Oct. 23-25, both at the Empire Polo Club in Indio. All ticket purchases for the April dates will be honored in October, organizers said.

With the exception of Disneyland and California Adventure, most theme parks and casinos remain open at this time, but discussions are continuing City News Service reported.

National cancellations and postponements

On the national stage, both the National Basketball Association, National LaCrosse League and the National Hockey League have all suspended the remainder of their seasons indefinitely and Major League Soccer announced it had suspended all games for at least 30 days.

Just after noon Thursday, Major League Baseball announced the opening of the 2020 regular season will be delayed by at least two weeks and has suspended all spring training games.

The NCAA officially canceled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, Thursday, as well as all other winter and spring NCAA championships and The American Hockey League, including the San Diego Gulls, is suspending play effective Thursday, March 12. The league
will continue to monitor developments and provide updates on the 2019-20 season.

The Ladies Professional Golf Association announced postponement of the ANA Inspiration golf tournament originally set for the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, April 2-5. The tournament will be rescheduled for a later date in the 2020 season, the organization said, but is not providing specific dates.

ORIGINAL STORY:

As COVID-19 continues its spread across southern California and the country, many local businesses and organizations have begun to cancel activities or increased safety precautions to protect the public from the disease, which at this time has no cure.

First identified in Wuhan, China, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can be spread from person to person, the Center for Disease Control said. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 

It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus, which in most cases causes fever, coughing and or shortness of breath, spreads.

Health agencies throughout the country say the best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing hands often, but recent advice from some experts has led many local organizations to cancel or postpone events to try to help and stop prevent the spread of the disease.

Chambers of Commerce

The Murrieta Wildomar Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday, March 11, it would suspend all its activities “out of an abundance of caution” in response to the threat of COVID-19.

The move came after the chamber took part in a series of conference calls with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the White House, a press release issued by the agency said.

“Based on information we have received and out of an abundance of caution, we are suspending all events and programs,” the chamber said.

According to the press release, experts are saying that if large gathering events were suspended or changed over the next few weeks, it would provide a gap that could help to curtail the expansion of the virus.

“We appreciate your patience during this time and support of us being mindful of our communities’ health,” the chamber said. “We will continue to monitor the situation and will update you as we have more information.”

For the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce, it was business as usual as of the time of this posting.

TVCC has not made any changes to our meetings and event schedule (for meetings and events with fewer than 1,000 in attendance),” TVCC president and CEO Emily Falappino said. “We have, however, adopted extra precautions to safeguard our meeting environments and stop the spread of germs, using all of the great resources authoritative experts on the matter have endorsed.  This means our upcoming meetings and events will feature more precautions and extra touches to help keep the event free from germ spread.”

Falappino said TVCC is making it a priority to educate themselves with facts and “authoritative resources.”

“We’re making daily evaluations of the current and potential effects of COVID-19 within our community and our business economy,” she said. “At this time, TVCC wants to promote facts, take precautions, minimize risks and maintain life/business ‘as (close to) usual’ to the best of our abilities with consideration of all these factors. We are in close and frequent communications with local government, local hospitals, our biggest industry partners, and our small business community.”

Falappino said that the TVCC is nimble and prepared to make changes as necessary.

“TVCC will follow up with more resources and more frequent communications over this topic and the situation in our Valley,” she said.

Great Oak High School announces cancellations, TVUSD issues guidance

In a letter sent to parents and obtained by Valley News Wednesday, Great Oak High School announced the cancellation of its Spring Showcase Scheduled for March 12. The school has since added more items to the list of canceled events. 

The letter recommended parents and interested parties visit its website, www.tvusd.k12.ca.us/GOHS, for a full listing of cancellations at the school.

A statement released by TVUSD representative Laura Boss late Wednesday stated that the district’s top priority continues to be the health and safety of our students and staff.

“We take this responsibility seriously,” Boss said. “In an abundance of caution to prioritize the health and well-being of all our stakeholders and in keeping with the guidance from federal, state, and county agencies, TVUSD has provided guidance to school site administrators to postpone school and district extracurricular events and activities.”

All guidance by the district is based on and meets criteria put forth by the CDC and the Riverside County Public Health Department and includes gatherings involving a large number of individuals, and, where the health and identity of attendees are unknown, and, that are held within confined spaces where visitors cannot selectively social distance themselves.

“Each school site will send out a communication to their individual school community advising of the events and activities that are being postponed and or canceled during the period of March 11- April 5, based on-site evaluation and established criteria,” Boss explained. “Examples, but not limited are the following types of activities being postponed: open houses, showcases, banquets, indoor performances, some field trips, etc.”

Boss said the district will reevaluate protocols following spring break.

“We deeply respect the work that our students, staff, and families have done to plan events and activities and apologize for having to modify, postpone, and in some cases, cancel these activities,” she said. “Our site administrators will do their best to find other opportunities and or resources to share the information that was planned at a specific event and, if rescheduling is available, will pursue that as well.”

Coachella, Stagecoach postponed

On Tuesday, March 10, organizers of the Coachella and Stagecoach Music festivals announced the postponement of the popular festivals until October.

“At the direction of the county of Riverside and local health authorities, we must sadly confirm the rescheduling of Coachella and Stagecoach due to COVID-19 concerns,” a statement released by Goldenvoice, the events’ promoter, said. “While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty, we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously.”

The postponement was a directive of Riverside County’s public health officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser.

“This decision was not taken lightly or without consideration of many factors,” Kaiser said in a statement. “No doubt it will impact many people, but my top priority is to protect the health of the entire community.”

According to Goldenvoice, Coachella was rescheduled for Oct. 9-11 and Oct. 16-18, while Stagecoach will be held Oct. 23-25, both at the Empire Polo Club in Indio. All ticket purchases for the April dates will be honored in October, organizers said.

Casinos take precautions

Meanwhile officials at Pechanga Resort Casino have ramped up their efforts to keep visitors to the largest entertainment venue in the Temecula Valley safe by increasing efforts to clean and sanitize the property with hospital grade disinfectants.  

“We continue to carefully follow all the current guidelines for health and safety set by the Centers for Disease Control and regional health authorities,” a letter posted for visitors found on www.pechanga.com said.

Steps being taken by the casino include increasing the number of self-serve hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipe stations throughout the resort and casino, increasing the number of Environmental Service and housekeeping staff that are assigned to clean public areas and high-touch areas, 24 hours a day to include all slot machines, main cage, the Club desk, all redemption kiosks and ATMs, compartment door handles, faucets, flush handles and latches in all public restrooms, all door handles, elevators, handrails, locker rooms at Journey, golf course restrooms and all hotel rooms.

Pechanga has also made instant hand sanitizing wipes available to guests as they depart valet and at the Cage and Rewards Club. Environmental Services and other department Team Members also carry sanitizing wipes in the event a guest should ask for one.

The casino has also implemented human resources policies for team members to prevent employees from coming to work sick and are replenishing the air in the casino using fresh outside air several times per hour.

“The whole situation is very fast moving, and we are working to stay abreast of everything,” Ciara Green, media and public relations director for Pechanga Resort Casino, said. “We are really monitoring everything that is coming out, especially that from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Riverside County Department of Health and seeing where we need to go from there.”

“Guests have a lot of concerns and we are taking each one on a personal basis and are doing what we can to put those safeguards in place,” Green said.

In San Jacinto, officials at Soboba Casino Resort are taking many of the same precautions as those at Pechanga.

We are taking several precautions at Soboba Casino Resort to prevent the spread of this virus,” Soboba Casino Resort Assistant general manager Jason Cozart, said. “Steps taken include adding staff to the gaming floor to sanitize and disinfect all slot machines and restrooms on a continuous basis.”

Soboba, which has not seen a downturn in business since the outbreak began, has also added extra hand sanitizing stations on the gaming floor and at all casino entrances and employees have been instructed to follow CDC and public health directives for handwashing and personal hygiene, Cozart said.

“We also encourage all of our guests to follow any and all guidelines issued by the CDC, state, county or local health officials,” Cozart said. “Employees have been instructed to stay home if they feel ill. We have also begun to send employees home immediately if there is any indication of illness. In the hotel, we continue to disinfect every hotel room ensuring that all common touchpoints are addressed.”

Soboba has also suspended business travel to areas with high infection rates and is requiring employees who have traveled to high infection areas to stay at home for two weeks and obtain medical clearance before returning to work. 

“We are in communication with public health officials from Riverside County, and continue to monitor the situation,” Cozart said, adding that if any events are canceled due to the virus, the casino would offer a full refund to customers who have purchased tickets. 

“We are deeply concerned about our team members and the community at large,” Cozart said. “The Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians is committed partner with the surrounding communities. Public health and safety are paramount, and decisions will be made that are in the best interests of our customers, team members, and the Tribe as a whole.”

Murrieta cancels event

Citing health concerns, organizers for the Murrieta Citizens Academy have announced the postponement of both the March 12 and March 26 classes.

“The city is taking every precaution to keep our residents and guests to city hall safe, by providing hand sanitizing stations, and antimicrobial soaps in our restrooms, however large, nonessential gatherings of people are not recommended,” organizers said in an emailed statement to Valley News. “… we will ensure that they are provided once the Academy starts up again. Right now, we are shooting for Thursday, March 26, however this may change in response to potential changes in public health conditions at that time.”

This is a breaking news story that will be updated as more information becomes available.

City News Service and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kim Harris can be reached by email at valleyeditor@reedermedia.com.