Empty shelves, schools closed; coronavirus affects Corning

Shelves in stores in Corning and across Tehama County remain empty of toilet paper as residents respond to the worldwide coronavirus threat. Why people are responding to the threat by stockpiling toilet paper instead of other commodities remains a mystery.


Schools are closed, churches closed, and toilet paper is a hot commodity – these are just a few of the impacts the coronavirus pandemic is having on the community, its businesses and residents.

During the Tehama County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, county Public Health Officer Dr. Richard Wickenheiser shared an update on the county’s response to the coronavirus, followed by the Board issuing an emergency declaration due to the impact the virus could have on the county, and to qualify for state and federal funding.

In addition, Corning City Manager Kristina Miller issued a written statement on the city’s response to the threat.

“The City of Corning takes the safety and health of our community as a top priority and is taking actions to limit the spread of this virus,” she said. “The City will follow all local, state and federal guidance. This is an evolving situation where changes in guidance are being made quickly. I encourage the public to remain calm and monitor the California Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) websites.”

She urges residents to protect themselves and others by following all Centers of Disease Control guidelines. 

“People over 65 or with underlying health conditions should remain at home,” Miller said.

Wickenheiser reported on Tuesday there have been no reported cases of coronavirus in Tehama County. On Wednesday afternoon the county Public Health Department said that information remains the same, adding that there have been tests conducted, all coming back negative, and the department remains well stocked with test kits.

Wickenheiser said there is no vaccine or medication to treat coronavirus, which is spread through respiratory droplets and contaminated surfaces.

He asked people who are sick to stay home, even if not diagnosed with coronavirus. For those who can’t stay home, he asked  they follow state and federal guidelines of keeping a distance of six feet between people and limit gatherings to 10 or less.

In the meantime, county libraries are closed, including the one in Corning, as are schools and the Senior Center; events, club meetings, and activities have been cancelled. Two of the many events that have been cancelled are the annual Republican and the annual Democrat dinners scheduled for this month in Tehama County. 

In some cases, businesses closed and employees sent home as officials and those in authority attempt to comply with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order on Monday, which called for all restaurants to end dine-in service and for bars, card rooms and health clubs to close to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

Starbucks in Corning is complying with this order and is now serving drive-up and walk in-order-and-go only.

Rolling Hills Casino temporarily closed its doors on Wednesday in support of the efforts to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The casino will remain closed until further notice, according to the Tribal Council of the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, which owns the establishment.

“During this closure, we will use the opportunity to do a very thorough cleaning of the facility so that we will be ready to welcome guests back as soon as possible,” said Andrew Alejandre, Tribal chairman. 

The Board of Supervisors directed Chief Administrator Bill Goodwin to meet with county department heads to decide on how best to implement coronavirus guidelines as each department’s services and public contact vary. Decisions were to be finalized by Friday and implemented Monday.

Miller said the City of Corning is doing several things to ensure continuity of operations as the situation evolves.

“Essential services include public safety, fire, water and sewer operations. Employees are being provided appropriate personal protective equipment and guidance to work safely. Safety is my utmost concern,” she added. The City may experience increases in absences, as such we have created orders of succession and cross-trained employees. Public Works employees are cross-trained to ensure water and sewer operations.”

As there may come a time when City Hall and its finance office will close to the public, city staff is preparing and will be able to process the regular course of business remotely, Miller said. For instance, building permits will be able to be submitted online to Angel Garman, and utility billing payments will be processed online at https://www.corning.org/pay_online.htm at no additional charge, or payments may be dropped into the payment box at the finance office. 

The Corning Senior Center is closed through at least March 31, however meals are being provided for pick-up from vehicles at the Senior Center on Fourth Street. Seniors are asked to not leave their vehicles when they come to pick up food. Home delivery meals will continue as usual.

City Recreation Department classes scheduled to begin in April will begin as scheduled, unless changes are required and classes are delayed.

In an effort to comply with the federal limit to public gatherings to under 10 people, Miller said the City is evaluating how to maintain public input while complying with the directive. 

 Tehama County Sheriff Dave Hencratt said his department’s patrol and response procedures remain unchanged, however, the jail is restricting visits and public health has set up a triage area for anyone who is allowed into the jail.

Corning Police Chief Jeremiah Fears is asking his officers to comply with CDC guidelines to the best of their ability  as they serve the community.

“We are also asking residents who call into the police department needing a response by one of our officers to let dispatch know if anyone in the home, or situation, is ill,” Fears said. “That way when we do respond, which we will do even is someone is sick, we can take the necessary precautions, such as wearing a recommended face mask if needed.”

Several churches in the community have suspended Sunday and weekday meetings until further notice, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, and Harvest Christian Center. Some churches are offering online services and others recommending home-based studies.

To keep abreast of the latest on the coronavirus go online to the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov.

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