On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, amid the coronavirus outbreak, some shoppers were turned away at the Vons in Palm Springs off Highway 111. They reserved the first two hours for seniors only.

Palm Springs Desert Sun

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Due to growing public health concerns about the rapidly spreading coronavirus, Coachella Valley cities are taking precautions to protect the region’s higher-risk populations.

The city of Palm Springs has taken the most drastic measure, issuing a shelter in place order for its residents. 

Meanwhile, several other cities in the valley have yet to declare a local emergency, though they are following emergency guidelines from Riverside County’s public health officer and the state, limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer. 

Here is where each city in the Coachella Valley stands on emergency orders, as of Wednesday morning: 

Desert Hot Springs: The city council declared a local emergency during a special meeting on Wednesday. It reinforces Riverside County’s recommendation that people not gather in groups of more than 10 but stops short of ordering residents shelter in place and restaurants to operate as take-out only, like the city of Palm Springs. 

Palm Springs: An emergency order advising all residents to shelter in place is in effect through at least April 2, when the public health risk will be re-evaluated. Residents are urged to limit activities to only those essential to their daily lives. Restaurants will no longer be able to serve dine-in customers, although takeout and delivery can continue. The order excludes a list of 21 essential businesses that are allowed to stay open during the shelter-in-place order. That list can be found on the city’s website, 

La Quinta: The city council has declared a state of emergency, but bars, restaurants and other businesses have not been asked to close. Restaurants are encouraged to offer take-out and curbside pickup. No more than 10 people will be allowed in an area, following the mandates of the state and Riverside County public health officer. City Hall closed on Wednesday after a visitor came in for an appointment visibly ill. 

Palm Desert: A local emergency has been declared, closing City Hall and other municipal facilities through at least April 3. Those who need to conduct business with the city are being directed to the city’s website, 

Indio: The city issued a proclamation of a local emergency, which is expected to be ratified by the city council at its meeting on Wednesday. “This local proclamation will support the City’s planning and response efforts, and is a signal to the community that the City is prepared to mobilize local resources, coordinate interagency response, and use mutual aid in the event the COVID-19 virus has been introduced to the immediate area,” reads an update on the city’s website. 


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Cities without emergency orders

Cathedral City: All city buildings were closed to the public on Wednesday. Constituents can access limited city services on the city websites, and, or by phone or email. The city suspended all special events through the end of April, or until approved by the county’s public health officer. 

Rancho Mirage: City Hall is closed to the public, but the lobby will stay open during regular business hours for ballot drop offs. People with business with the city are asked to communicate by phone or email. Other city facilities, including the library, observatory and dog park, will be closed and city-sponsored events will be cancelled through at least April 30. The council chambers are still open to the public for council meetings. 

Indian Wells: City Hall is closed to the public through April 6. City services are available by phone, email and through the website, and a “very limited” number of in-person appointments, according to the city website. 

Coachella: The Senior Center has closed until at least April 6, and community events have been canceled. City offices remain open during normal business hours. The city is encouraging residents to avoid non-essential gatherings to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, but no emergency order is in place at this time. 


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Riverside County now has a total of 16 coronavirus cases. Of the three confirmed deaths — two men and one woman — all were Coachella Valley residents in their 70s and two had underlying health conditions, according to county spokesperson Brooke Federico. One of the three had recently resided at a skilled nursing facility in Rancho Mirage, she said.

Neighboring San Bernardino County has three reported cases.

Risa Johnson covers Native American affairs in the Coachella Valley and beyond. She can be reached at or (760) 778-4737. Follow her on Twitter @risamjohnson. 

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