City of Clovis Declares State of Emergency

Residents line up outside of Costco on March 13 in an attempt to get items such as toilet paper and water bottles. (Ron Camacho/Clovis Roundup)

The City of Clovis is bracing for impact as Coronavirus cases continue to increase throughout California and as national and state leaders scramble to address the pandemic.

The City, Clovis Unified School District and Clovis Community College suspended all large events as of March 17 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

COVID-19 is the disease that is caused by the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency Friday, March 13, days after the World Health Organization announced the outbreak was a global pandemic. On Monday, March 16, he announced guidelines to limit gatherings to groups no larger than 10 people.

The same day, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked all California restaurants to close their dine-in areas and that movie theaters, clubs and gyms temporarily shutter.

“We’re asking people to shelter in place, to isolate at home,” Newsom said during an update broadcast on Facebook Live. “The point of gatherings is lost on all of us from a public safety and health perspective. So directing … no gatherings … we think it’s very rational under these circumstances. Disruptive, I know, for some. But rational, we believe, in this moment.

There were two confirmed cases of the virus in Fresno County as of Tuesday, March 17. Neighboring Tulare county reported three cases, including an elderly victim who was hospitalized. A total of 11 people have died from COVID-19 in California.

March 17 Updates

City Declares State of Emergency

The City of Clovis declared a state of emergency at its March 16 City Council meeting, which was held in the Senior Center instead of City Hall to allow social distancing.

Chairs, all of which were separated by six feet, were provided for the meeting’s attendees. 

The decision gives City Manager Luke Sherpa increased authority to utilize the police and fire departments to respond to the crisis.

“This is uncharted territory,” Mayor Drew Bessinger said. “I hope that we will persevere and not fear too much and trust each other and take care of our neighbors.”

Quoting president Franklin D. Roosevelt, Councilmember Bob Whalen added, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

The city is considering holding its future meetings online.

The declaration was made the same day that Fresno County declared a state of emergency.

On Tuesday, March 17, the city said it would begin to enforce the California Department of Public Health’s guidelines directing the closure of bars, wineries, breweries and pubs. Restaurants can remain open, but only for dine-in services.

Many Old Town restaurants had already decided to shift to pick up orders by the time the announcement was made. Michaelangelo’s Pizzeria, for example, said it will be open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday for pick orders only.

Still, some bars were ignoring the guidelines set by the state, county and city. The Fifth saloon still advertised it’s St. Patrick’s Day event. Old Town Saloon and Outlaw Tavern were also open.

But now those bars will now have to temporarily close, Clovis Police Lieutenant Jim Monroe said.

“If a local business — restaurant, bar brewery, pub — chooses not to comply, then we will get involved and will attempt to educate them and ask for cooperation and compliance,” Monroe said. “If for some reason they don’t want to cooperate, then we do have an enforcement arm to where we could issue a citation or potentially make an arrest. We don’t want to have to do that, we don’t want to issue citations, we hope people just cooperate.”

“There have been no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Senior Center. This action is being taken by the City of Clovis out of an abundance of caution, as this facility serves our most vulnerable population,” the City said in a statement.

The Fresno-Madera Area Agency on Aging (FMAAA) announced it will temporarily stop providing hot meals to the center. Staff is working to notify seniors who regularly attended the hot meal program and is considering the possibility of home delivered meals.

It is not known when the hot meal program will resume.

The City also suspended park reservations. Parks and picnic sites will remain open to the public, however.

“This is being done out of caution and in accordance with current recommendations by Public Health entities to limit group gatherings. Parks and picnic sites can still be used on a first-come, first-serve basis at your discretion,” the City said in a social media post.

Ron Camacho
Ron Camacho was born and raised in Clovis. He attended Clovis High School and graduated from CSU Fresno in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications and Journalism. Before joining the Roundup, Ron wrote for Pollstar Magazine and the Sanger Herald. He has a deep appreciation for the arts and is a lover of music, cinema and storytelling. When he’s not busy looking for his next story, Ron enjoys taking weekend expeditions to the beach or mountains to practice landscape photography.