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Manteca scrambles to administer state’s stay-at-home order

Sunrise this morning marked the dawn of a new reality for nearly 40 million Californians.

Many stores will be closed. Dining inside restaurants has been outlawed. Schools could now be out for summer even though spring officially starts at 8:49 p.m. tonight.

It is against the backdrop of Gov. Gavin Newsom ordering Californians to essentially stay at home outside of exceptions for essential needs and those employed by concerns that the state has deemed are essential services that local officials are scrambling to determine what it all means for Manteca’s 85,000 residents.

“This is completely uncharted territory,” said City of Manteca Public Information Officer Lentz Rey.

Unlike in emergencies invoked when they are disasters such as wildfires and floods there is no callback of all public safety personnel in the police and fire departments.

Overall calls for police and fire service have dropped in Manteca during the past few days. The fire department has been handling more respiratory calls but other calls are down.

Emergency rooms at Doctors Hospital and Kaiser have seen lighter than usual traffic although both hospitals have ramped up for a possible influx of coronavirus patients.

“Most people are trying to stay away (from the ERs) if they have things like headaches,” Rey said noting people don’t want to expose themselves to potential carriers.

Lentz stressed the need for people to follow the governor’s orders  noting the Centers for Disease Control indicates a large segment of the population can be infected and not get sick while at the same time spread it to others who may develop symptoms and become ill.

“If you don’t need to be out, stay at home,” Lentz said.

He noted there is no issue with driving to places like a park to exercise, going to and from workplaces that are still allowed to be open or making trips for essential needs. But he said police officers — on a case-by-case basis if they have reason to be concerned such as someone who they see continuously driving around — will have the authority to pull a person over and question them.

Rey stressed, however, that the city is relying on people to simply follow the governor’s orders.

The city’s emergency command center at the Civic Center council chambers extended the 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. hours they have been keeping to midnight on Thursday to try and answer what questions they could from citizens emailing or calling in as well as to monitor the ongoing situation.

Interim City Manager Miranda Lutzow who doubles as the city’s emergency coordinator may make a decision today whether to go to a 24/7 operations at the emergency center.

Rey said the city will be trying to nail down in the coming days what exactly the governor’s order will mean for Manteca residents and what additional steps the city may take. The phone number for questions related to the coronavirus emergency is 456-8854 while the email is

There is likely to still be traffic on the streets but a lot less. On Thursday traffic volume was down on city streets as well as the 120 Bypass give the shelter in place orders that had already been issued in the Bay Area where the bulk of the 80,000 Northern San Joaquin Valley commuters usually head. The order has shut down a number of Bay Area firms since the start of the week.

The new reality of the commute across the Altamont was reflected in Altamont Corridor Express ridership that has plummeted 85 percent.

ACE is suspending Saturday service as of this weekend as well as the last weekday train out of Stockton (No. 7) in the morning and the last evening train out of San Jose (No. 0) until further notice starting Monday.

Both trains had dropped to 30 riders or less. ACE — while needing to make sure essential workers could get to their places of employment — has seen a large drop in revenue creating budgetary pressure. The number of one-way riders from all trains combined fell to just over 400 on Wednesday.

Manteca Unified mulling

what it will do next

The 25,000 Manteca Unified students who are on spring break this week and will then be off for two weeks starting Monday due to coronavirus concerns, were tentatively due to return to classes on Monday, April 6.

That may change in light of the governor’s order and how long it stays in effect.

“The Governor made a proclamation announcing a stay-at-home executive order for all non-essential services. Education is defined as an essential service,” Manteca Unified District Superintendent Clark Burke said in a statement Thursday night. “The safety and health of our staff and families is at the forefront of our decision making process. We are meeting with our labor groups and employees reinforcing the importance of appropriate health practices while we address the essential educational and nutritional community services. We remain steadfast and ready to serve out students.”

Manteca Unified is expected to announce today where it will make to-go meals available for students who normally would have had weekday lunch provided starting this coming Monday.

There were 17 confirmed coronavirus cases as well as two deaths in San Joaquin County as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

After Newsom’s announcement for Californians to shelter in place many national retailers with stores in Manteca and elsewhere in California.

Kohl’s, as an example, temporarily closed all of its stores nationwide as of 7 p.m. Thursday until at least April 1.

In doing do so they will be providing two calendar weeks of pay to store associates. Kohl’s will continue to sell and ship items through and their app 24 hours a day.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email