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Photo essay: A look at life in Paso Robles in the time of the coronavirus 

Food 4 Less in Paso Robles had customers line-up outside, at times, to keep the store from being overcrowded.


–On Saturday, March 14, the first person in San Luis Obispo County tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. In the week and a half that’s followed, we now have at least 42 cases, with 18 in North County. A lot has changed in our daily lives. The Paso Robles School District announced on March 14 that it was closing schools, the County of San Luis Obispo ordered us on March 19 to ‘Shelter at Home’, except for ‘essential businesses’ and trips to the grocery store or pharmacy.

I did a survey of town over the last few days and took some photos to chronicle what life looks like in Paso Robles during this unprecedented COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. There is less vehicle traffic on the roads than usual, but people are still out and about, taking care of their important needs, buying groceries, and getting exercise. Homeless people are still holding up their signs on corners.

While most people are staying at home, and many working from home; still, there are businesses open to serve the public in Paso Robles. We put together a list of eateries offering takeout or delivery and wineries offering pickups. We want to encourage locals to help keep supporting our small businesses.

The Paso Robles Wal-Mart this week looks about as busy as usual.


The City Park in downtown Paso Robles is seen mostly vacant this week with few people enjoying the park or patronizing the businesses around it.


 Lowes in Paso Robles looks busy

The Lowe’s in Paso Robles looks busy this week, but not crowded. Perhaps residents are catching up on home improvement projects with their time at home. Bed, Bath & Beyond and TJ Maxx were vacant.


While some paper goods like toilet paper appear to be in short supply, the grocery stores in Paso Robles are well stocked. There is no need to rush out and hoard supplies. Our local stores are bringing in new shipments every day. The county said it has done a review of grocery store supply chains and it remains strong as ever.

The parking lot of the local Albertson’s looked about as full as usual. The grocery store had closed one of its entrances. “We’re trying to limit the store to 150 people at a time,” an employee said. Most of the store’s shelves were 80-percent full, but paper goods like toilet paper were thinly stocked. In contrast, fresh produce and fresh meats were in ample supply.


The local grocery stores seem to have a steady stream of shoppers, though not many paid much attention to the county’s “social distancing” recommendation of keeping a six-foot distance from others when possible. It seems difficult to do that while waiting in line to check out, or waiting in line for the pharmacy counter. It also seems that many seniors still find themselves needing to get out, or are not aware of being at higher at risk, or perhaps the rest of us aren’t doing our part to help them pick up their groceries and medicines.

The Smart & Final stores in town stayed fairly busy with shoppers, but not crowded. The store at Golden Hill and Creston Road here still had toilet paper in stock and plenty of food supplies.


Some popular cold medicines were sold out at the Smart & Final on Golden Hill and Creston roads.

Some popular cold medicines were sold out at the Smart & Final on Golden Hill and Creston roads.


Canned goods appeared to be a popular item at local stores. While produce and meats were well stocked.


Local residents are getting out, getting fresh air, sunshine, and much-needed exercise. Children are out and about, riding bikes and skateboards, playing basketball with their friends, perhaps in smaller groups than normal times.

Local residents are getting out and exercising, walking their dogs, riding their bikes, maybe now more than ever. A family here in the Meadowlark neighborhood is rollerblading down the street.


A few people hit some balls at the baseball diamond at Sherwood Park. The tennis courts were empty.


 Sherwood Dog Park during COVID-19

The Sherwood Dog Park was fairly empty with just one pup getting to play fetch with his owner.


The Chase Bank branch at Niblick and River roads reduced its hours of operations. At times, people lined up outside, so the inside lobby would not get too crowded. Across town, Bank of Sierra has closed to walk-in customers altogether.


The US Post Office at 800 6th Street is always a hub of local business activity. Foot traffic there was slightly lighter this week than usual.


We are living in interesting times, and no matter how hard this is at the moment, we will persevere, we will thrive, we are a strong community, these are my observations…

A postscript from Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin:

While the normal activities of life have been disrupted, the city continues to function well. We have declared a local emergency and activated our Emergency Operations Center at Level 2 readiness. City staff is working daily to mitigate the inconveniences posed by this situation. We are dedicating downtown parking revenues to support our downtown businesses. The Chamber of Commerce has implemented a new website,, to keep local business people informed. Please visit the city website,, for the latest information regarding closure of public facilities. It is critical we slow the progress of the virus that is causing all this unrest.

Remember: Distance (maintain physical separation), Disinfect (wash your hands, clean hard surfaces, fist-bump) and diagnose (unless you are seriously ill, high temperature/difficulty breathing don‘t head to the Emergency Room, call your doctor or a public health clinic). For best health guidance, consult or the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department. I am calling on all of our citizens to take this crisis as an opportunity to be smart, be flexible and support each other. Stay strong, Paso Robles.

Please add your photos of life in Paso Robles in the time of the coronavirus in the comments below:



About the author: Publisher Scott Brennan

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.