Jessica Cejnar / Thursday, March 12, 2020 @ 2:02 p.m.

Del Norte Public Health Officer Recommends Canceling Large Events Due To COVID-19 Risk

Del Norte’s public health officer is echoing a recommendation from the state to cancel or postpone large community events to curtail the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

In a news release Thursday, Dr. Warren Rehwaldt urged people planning community events should plan on cancelling, postponing or restructuring them in a way that meets the state’s guidelines.

This announcement follows one from California Governor Gavin Newsom, who said Wednesday that state public health recommends limiting non-essential gatherings to no more than 25 people. Smaller events can proceed only if the organizers can implement social distancing of six feet per person.

Small gatherings made up of high-risk people, such as the elderly, should be limited to 10 people at a time while following the six-foot social distancing guidelines, according to a news release from the California Office of Emergency Services.

On Thursday, Rehwaldt said most, if not all, events planned for St. Patrick’s Day in Del Norte County don’t meet the above criteria and should be cancelled or postponed.

“With many St. Patrick’s Day celebrations planned for the next week, this is both timely and an unexpected burden,” Rehwaldt writes. “But as health officer for Del Norte, I agree with the decision. The strategy that this step represents has been shown to be working well in countries that have adopted the ‘extreme’ approach and virus transmission in those places has dropped.”

Under the state’s updated policy, a gathering is any event or convening that brings together people in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria or any other indoor or outdoor space.

“Changing our actions for a short period of time will save the life of one or more people you know,” Newsom said in a written statement. “That’s the choice before us. Each of us has extraordinary power to slow the spread of this disease.”

One event that will be canceled is the St. Patty’s Day Polka Party at the Crescent City Harbor, Commissioner Jim Ramsey told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Thursday. The event was planned as a fundraiser for Friends of the Harbor, Ramsey said, but since its target audience is over 50 years-old the nonprofit organization felt it would be best to cancel it.

“We didn’t want somebody to catch the disease and get really sick or pass it on,” Ramsey said.

Rehwaldt also added that guidelines about how to socially distance are available online via the CDC and other federal agencies.

“I also want to stress the point, that for people who are well and living apart from anyone, of the value of remaining home as much as possible (for) the duration of this outbreak,” he said. “Some people do this all the time during flu season, but it is an extra step that elders should now be doing if it is possible to do so in their home.”

For more information about COVID-19 in Del Norte, visit the Del Norte County Public Health Branch website.


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