Press Release: Public Health Recommends Canceling Large Gatherings

Clark County Public Health is recommending the cancellation of large gatherings of more than 250 people in order to minimize the potential health impacts of COVID-19.

Public Health is making these recommendations in an abundance of caution. There is no evidence of widespread transmission of COVID-19 in Clark County, which still has only one confirmed case. However, the case had no recent travel history, which indicates the virus is in our community.

“We’re making these recommendations in an effort to help slow the spread of the virus in our community,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and public health director. “By slowing the spread of the virus, we can protect those in our community who are at risk for severe illness and lessen the impact to our health care system.”

The Public Health recommendations apply to planned or spontaneous gatherings of 250 people or more, including concerts, festivals, conferences, conventions, worship services, sporting events and other similar events or activities. The recommendations do not apply to school attendance, businesses, grocery and retail stores.

At this time, Public Health is not recommending school closures. Children are not at high risk for serious illness from the virus, and Public Health does not want to disrupt the school setting unless there are known COVID-19 exposure risks.

School closures have unintended consequences and can be costly for families. Working parents may be without child care options, and children who rely on school meals may go without needed nutrition. The potential benefits gained by reducing the possibility of COVID-19 transmission in the school must be weighed against these impacts. Public Health will work with its partners at the schools when making any recommendations regarding potential school closures.

The recommendations for large gatherings align Clark County with similar restrictions in place in the Puget Sound and in Oregon.

Organizers of smaller events should take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at their gatherings. The Washington State Department of Health has recommendations for event organizers.

Public Health recommendations

Clark County Public Health issued recommendations for populations at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 on March 11. Public Health is recommending – but not requiring – that people at higher risk stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible.

People at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 include people:

  • older than 60.
  • who have serious chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease.
  • who have weakened immune systems.

Anyone who has questions about whether their condition puts them at risk for COVID-19 should consult their health care provider.

Everyday practices to prevent colds, influenza and other respiratory illnesses can also protect people against COVID-19. Public Health recommends people take the following actions to keep themselves healthy:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Stay home and away from others when sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.
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