As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) blasts across worldwide headlines, it’s trickled down to a local level, yielding the cancellation of numerous events large and small, closures of offices and schools, and effects on local businesses.
Patty Baird, owner of Truckee’s Cedar House Sport Hotel, said the entire lodging community in Tahoe is already seeing effects of the pandemic, noting the loss of three major group bookings during March, a “substantial revenue loss on the books.” Mostly, it’s group business, the midweek slots, that are being affected, she said.
But she furthered that, nevertheless, she sees potential. “We still have a strong drive market. There are people that want to get out of the urban environment, so we will see … The other thing that’s happening with short-term rentals is the owners of the homes, now they want to sleep in their own bed. [And] with all the schools closing, a lot of people are coming up here.”
The Town of Truckee coordinating resources is helping, Baird continued, and as more information comes in, the more business owners can keep their teams apprised of the situation and proactively prepare.
Still, Baird said, “It’s going to be an economic hit regardless.”
Wrote North Lake Tahoe Resort Association CEO Jeffrey Henz in a newsletter, “Our collective goal is to ensure our business communities, event planners, and residents have the resources they need to respond accurately to COVID-19 concerns. We are continuing to welcome visitors to the region and imploring both businesses and lodging partners who have taken the steps to ensure the safety of our visitors and residents. Numerous health officials have affirmed that the risk remains low for travelers who follow CDC guidelines.”
Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz announced Saturday that all North American mountain resorts and retail stores will suspend operations beginning March 15 through March 22, using the time to reassess an approach for the rest of the season. The decision includes Tahoe’s Northstar, Heavenly, and Kirkwood resorts.
Alterra Mountain Company also announced the closure of its 15 North American ski resorts, including Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, beginning March 15 until further notice.
Tahoe Forest Health System implemented its own enhanced infection-prevention practices for the safety of staff and community members, including limited visitation and controlled access. Visitors and patients alike are currently being screened and interviewed before entering any facilities. At Tahoe Forest Hospital, public may only enter via the main entrance and emergency room; at the Incline Village Community Hospital, only the emergency room is accessible.
Paige Thomason, TFHS’s director of marketing and communications, told Moonshine Ink in an email that if a patient meets coronavirus criteria to be tested, the hospital “would collect a specimen, and then tests are shipped out to California or Nevada health laboratories, specific for testing of COVID 19. We do not do the lab testing on site, collection only — if a person meets the criteria.”
The TFHS encourages people who are experiencing a fever, cough, or shortness of breath to call the hospital rather than come in person. The coronavirus-specific hotline number for the hospital is (530) 536-6013.
The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District announced a three-week closure of its schools and remote instruction beginning March 19, however, Superintendent Chief Learning Officer Robert Leri notified parents and students that no known coronavirus cases are connected to the school district.
The Town of Truckee is encouraging members of the public to participate in town meetings from home, utilizing Tahoe Truckee Media or Suddenlink Cable TV Channel 18. Public comment can be called in or texted to (530) 428-6555, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Nevada County is still reporting no known cases. Placer County health officials are encouraging telecommuting for employees if feasible. Washoe County has suspended all nonessential business meetings and events and has reported four confirmed cases.
The California Department of Public Health issued a policy last week saying public events should be limited to no more than 250 people, and only proceed if organizers can ensure a distance of 6 feet between attendees.
Events canceled/postponed in light of coronavirus concerns (please note this is not an exhaustive list and interested parties should confirm on their own):
- Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District programs and facilities: March 16 to April 3
- Tahoe Truckee Unified School District: March 16-April 3
- Monday, March 16, is forecasted as a snow day. Tuesday and Wednesday will function as nonstudent days so teachers can develop virtual lesson plans and activities. Therefore, there will be no school instruction March 16 to 18. Instruction will resume and distance learning will begin for all students on Thursday, March 19, remotely.
- Tahoe Donner amenities/facilities: March 16 to 31
- Trout Creek Recreation Center closed beginning March 14
- Moonshine Ink bingo fundraiser at Alibi Ale Works — Truckee: March 18
- Rotary Club of Truckee’s Crab & Pasta Feed: March 21
- Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation physical operations: March 16 to April 3
- This includes all convenings by the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee, Mountain Housing Council, and Forest Futures.
- S. Moguls Freestyle Championships at Squaw Valley: March 19 to 22
- WinterWonderGrass California: March 27 to 29 (postponed until April 9 to 11, 2021)
- BANFF Film Festival: April 2
- The Center for the Arts: All shows through mid-April are postponed until further notice other than The Glen Miller Orchestra (March 18 with modified seating arrangements).
- Wanderlust: July 16 to 19 (this cancellation is combined with a financial decision)
Main Image Caption: CORONAVIRUS-INSPIRED closures include all Tahoe Truckee Unified School District schools, which will implement distance learning March 18 to April 3. Photo by Wade Snider/Moonshine Ink