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Essential activities continue in Calistoga during the COVID-19 crisis

Essential activities continue in Calistoga during the COVID-19 crisis

From the Complete coronavirus coverage from the Napa Valley Register, St. Helena Star, and The Weekly Calistogan series

Almost a week after the COVID-19 Shelter at Home Order was issued, Calistogans are adjusting to navigating the town under new restrictions.

Activities are restricted to only those that are essential, like going to store, the gas station, and medical appointments. Outdoor contact sports and group activities are also prohibited.

So far, the order is through April 7, as issued by the Napa County Health Officer. Mayor Chris Caning, speaking at a special city council meeting on March 20, said violating the order is disrespectful and also unlawful.

“The city will be educating, and citing, then enforcing anyone having challenges understanding the order,” he said. “We have spoken with the police chief, and the city has great breath of action available.”

That said, the mayor also encouraged people to leave their homes to walk and bike ride to stay healthy and active, with certain stipulations, such as no groups larger than 10 gathering at close distance. “You are not trapped in household, you can do essential activities and get out for a walk,” he said.

On Saturday, the Farmers’ Market was open with produce and fish vendors only. Barbara Korte, president, and Karen Verzosa, manager of the market, arrived extra early to set up the weekly event according to the 6-foot social distancing restrictions. Vendors were placed far apart and chairs were set up with signs instructing customers to wait their turn spaced apart in line. It was something new.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Korte said.

But many residents readily turned out to purchase fresh produce, fish, and cheese. One customer said she “Was doing backflips” when she learned the market would be open. “It also takes some stress off of Cal Mart,” she said.

On Monday morning, while most of the rest of downtown was unnaturally quiet, the parking lot at Cal Mart was filled with older residents taking advantage of the store’s new designated shopping hours for seniors.

Seniors at all three mobile home parks are also being kept in touch with services and other virus-related information by resident managers and Calistoga Fire Department Engineer Jaime Orozco. Orozco conducts a weekly conference call between Rancho de Calistoga, Chateau Calistoga, Calistoga Springs mobile home parks, and Fair Way apartments, to keep seniors there updated.

“It makes you feel like you’re connected,” said Lauren Haugen, manager at Rancho de Calistoga.

The normally busy clubhouse at Rancho de Calistoga is closed until further notice. “We are pretty social here, but everyone is taking it pretty seriously and following the rules,” said Haugen. “Everyone has their own issues, of course, just with the general anxiety of now knowing what’s going to happen.”

Editor’s Note: Because of the health implications of the COVID-19 virus, this article is being made available free to all online readers. If you’d like to join us in supporting the mission of local journalism, please visit

You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at 942-4035 or

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor

Cynthia Sweeney has been editor of The Weekly Calistogan since July, 2018. Previously, she was a reporter for the St. Helena Star, and North Bay Business Journal. She also spent a significant amount of time freelancing in Hawaii.

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