Wasco Tribune - Serving the community since 1970

By Toni DeRosa
Wasco Tribune 

The harsh reality of coronavirus here


Last updated 3/31/2020 at 8:21pm | View PDF

Toni DeRosa | Wasco Tribune file

Miss Wasco Elisa Flores: "I know distancing is most important now..."

The coronavirus quarantine has hit Wasco businesses, institutions and the general public in ways unknown in generations.

Starbucks – an institution in its own rite -- is still in business, but only with drive-thru window service. However, the inside is closed for anyone wishing to sit down.

One of their employees at the drive-thru window said that they are doing fine because of their drive-thru service; however, their hours have changed, and they are now open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cakes by Karen is closed his week because she isn't able to find the necessary ingredients she needs as easily as before, and she has to have more time to find what necessary ingredients to finish orders that have already been placed. "We are doing well, though," she said. "We run out of at least one or two items every day, which is a good thing."

Store shelves still remain empty at Walmart, which now announces over the loudspeaker for shoppers to meet at a specific area near the back of the store to pick up one package of toilet paper and one case of water. Shoppers swarm to the back of the store when this announcement is made.

In the old days, Walmart employees were found stocking and restocking their shelves at all times of the day. It seemed like they would never run out of anything.

But that was then, and this is now. Keeping shelves well-stocked has become difficult because of consumer demand, a Walmart employee said.

In addition, small local businesses have taken the worst hit during this coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Jose Astercita, Sr., owner of Wasco Family Auto, said that business has been terrible. he said. "There are no people and no sales." Yet he thinks everything will pick up once the situation has ended. "We will get over this."

Jamie Nixon, the children's wear department manager at Walmart, suggests that people should patronize the smaller local restaurants and businesses because some of them will be closing down after the quarantine period.

Wasco Councilmember Alex Garcia stayed home from work last week; he felt it was important to return the medical billing business next week. "I'm isolated in my own office," Garcia said. "I'm feeling great after the winter pneumonia I had, and I have a follow-up appointment this Thursday to confirm everything is going well."

That didn't ring true with his business, though. "Because of the virus," Garcia said, "one of our biggest clients is closing down two of four shops. We probably won't feel it until April."

Wasco High Principal Kevin Tallon said when asked how the quarantine period was affecting the students and their grade progression. "It is premature to comment on anything beyond April 14," Tallon said. "At this time, we plan to reopen on April 14."

He added that students would not be held back, and can be certain they will move on to the next grade. "We are also committed to having a graduation ceremony," he said.

Wasco High School ag teacher Anthony Farao said that the ag students have been putting together short videos of inspiration for everyone who is quarantined.

"We've closed our offices and limited our work to deadlines and existing transactions," Mayor Tilo Cortez said about his real estate company. "No new business."

2020 Rose Queen Elisa Flores has been working on her homework online every day. "I have a part-time job at Pizza Factory in Wasco, so I've been working occasionally when needed," Elisa said. "The quarantine has affected me because I love being around people and socializing, so it is very sad because socializing has been paused."

She also said that with everything in her life that has been a downfall, she always manages to find a reason to remain positive. "I spend more time with my family and enjoy playing charades with my friends online, but I do wish I could help my community at certain events, but I know distancing is what's most important during this time."

She feels she is a good example for others and is pleased that so many community members are helping out the local businesses. "With that said, although this quarantine has interrupted the lives of so many, including WHS seniors, we all, with the help of others have been able to find the bright side of it all."

Flores added that she believes it's an important time to be documented in history because future Tigers will want to look back at the time of uncertainty.

Mario of Mario's Barbershop on F Street sold his business and works elsewhere. "This happened because of the virus," he said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that Wasco State Prison and North Kern State Prison have been ordered to stop intake processing of new prisoners.

Mayor Tilo Cortez thanked Assemblymember Rudy Salas for listening to a small-town mayor on this concern and also thanked Councilmember Alex Garcia for helping.


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