California Public Health Experts: Mass Gatherings Should be Postponed or Canceled Statewide to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California public health officials this evening issued an updated policy on gatherings to protect public health and slow the spread of COVID-19. The state’s public health experts have determined that gatherings should be postponed or canceled across the state until at least the end of March. Non-essential gatherings must be limited to no more than 250 people, while smaller events can proceed only if the organizers can implement social distancing of 6 feet per person. Gatherings of individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should be limited to no more than 10 people, while also following social distancing guidelines.

“Changing our actions for a short period of time will save the life of one or more people you know,” said Governor Newsom. â€śThat’s the choice before us. Each of us has extraordinary power to slow the spread of this disease. Not holding that concert or community event can have cascading effects — saving dozens of lives and preserving critical health care resources that your family may need a month from now. The people in our lives who are most at risk – seniors and those with underlying health conditions — are depending on all of us to make the right choice.”

The state’s updated policy defines a “gathering” as 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.

This guidance applies to all non-essential professional, social and community gatherings regardless of their sponsor.

Essential gatherings should only be conducted if the essential activity could not be postponed or achieved without gathering, meaning that some other means of communication could not be used to conduct the essential function.

The full policy can be found here.

“These changes will cause real stress — especially for families and businesses least equipped financially to deal with them. The state of California is working closely with businesses who will feel the economic shock of these changes, and we are mobilizing every level of government to help families as they persevere through this global health crisis,” added Governor Newsom.

State Efforts to Assist California Workers

California will continue acting swiftly to help workers hurt by COVID-19. Affected workers can visit the Labor & Workforce Development Agency’s website to review what benefits are available to them. For instance,

  • If you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 you may qualify for Paid Family Leave (PFL).
  • If you’re unable to work due to medical quarantine or illness, you may qualify for Disability Insurance. Those who have lost a job or have had their hours reduced for reasons related to COVID-19 may be able to partially recover their wages by filing an unemployment insurance claim.
  • If a worker or a family member is sick or for preventative care when civil authorities recommend quarantine, workers may use accrued paid sick leave in accordance with the law.
  • If workers are unable to do their usual job because they were exposed to and contracted COVID-19 during the regular course of their work, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. All information and resources can be found at Labor.Ca.Gov/Coronavirus2019

All Community Guidance Released from CDPH:
The California Department of Public Health has consolidated state guidance on how to prepare and protect Californians from COVID-19 in a single location. This includes guidance for:

  • Health care facilities, including long-term care facilities
  • Community care facilities, including assisted living facilities and child care
  • Schools and institutions of higher education
  • First responders, including paramedics and EMTs
  • Employers, health care workers and workers in general industry
  • Health care plans 
  • Home cleaning with COVID-19 positive individuals
  • Guidance for Using Disinfectants at Schools and Child Cares 
  • Laboratories
  • Health care facilities from Cal/OSHA
  • Homelessness Providers

What to Do if You Think You’re Sick:
Call ahead: If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and may have had contact with a person with COVID-19, or recently traveled to countries with apparent community spread, call your health care provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.
 
California’s Response to COVID-19:
We have been actively and extensively planning with our local public health and health care delivery systems. Here are some of the things we are already doing:  

  • As in any public health event, the California Department of Public Health’s Medical and Health Coordination Center has been activated and is coordinating public health response efforts across the state.
  • California continues to prepare and respond in coordination with federal and local partners, hospitals and physicians.
  • Governor Newsom declared a State of Emergency to make additional resources available, formalize emergency actions already underway across multiple state agencies and departments, and help the state prepare for broader spread of COVID-19.
  • Governor Gavin Newsom requested the Legislature make up to $20 million available for state government to respond to the spread of COVID-19.
  • California activated the State Operations Center to its highest level to coordinate response efforts across the state.
  • 24 million more Californians are now eligible for free medically necessary COVID-19 testing.
  • California made available some of its emergency planning reserves of 21 million N95 filtering face piece masks for use in certain health care settings to ease shortages of personal protective equipment.
  • The Public Health Department is providing information, guidance documents, and technical support to local health departments, health care facilities, providers, schools, universities, colleges, and childcare facilities across California
  • The California Employment Development Department (EDD) is encouraging individuals who are unable to work due to exposure to COVID-19 to file a Disability Insurance claim.
  • EDD is also encouraging employers who are experiencing a slowdown in their businesses or services as a result of the Coronavirus impact on the economy to apply for an Unemployment Insurance work sharing program.
  • California continues to work in partnership with the federal government to aid in the safe return of 962 Californians from the Grand Princess cruise ship. This mission is centered around protecting the health of the passengers, and ensuring that when the passengers disembark, the public health of the United States, the State of California, and partner communities is protected.
  • The Public Health Department is coordinating with federal authorities and local health departments that have implemented screening, monitoring and, in some cases quarantine of returning travelers. 
  • In coordination with the CDC, state and local health departments, we are actively responding to cases of COVID-19.
  • The Public Health Department is supporting hospitals and local public health laboratories in the collection of specimens and testing for COVID-19. 

The California Department of Public Health’s state laboratory in Richmond and 18 other public health department laboratories now have tests for the virus that causes COVID-19. Eighteen of them are currently conducting tests, with the others coming online soon.​

For more the most up to date information on COVID-19 and California’s response, visit the CDPH website.

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19 thoughts on “California Public Health Experts: Mass Gatherings Should be Postponed or Canceled Statewide to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

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  • March 12, 2020 at 11:03 am
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    Why are casinos open? Sitting together sharing chips and tokens> Massive person to person contact. Why are movie theaters open? Not as bad as a Casino but close. Why are we still bringing our own bags from home to get groceries. Its time to ban this eco action and save some lives.

    If California isn’t going to take this seriously then why do any of this? Why ban spectators at an arena but not a slot machine? Why ban outdoor concerts but not theaters? Is this about who pays the most to be left alone?

    Reply
    • March 12, 2020 at 2:12 pm
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      So you want the government to force shut down the private sector? The GUIDANCE clearly states to stay away from large gatherings/facilities….which would include a Casino (logically) and theaters, and gyms, and malls, and churches, and hospitals….the list goes on….this is guidance from the state of CA to its residents, not law, not forced mandatory restrictions, that would be a dictatorship. And lastly, you seriously think that bringing bags from home opposed to getting them at the store for free will curb any virus…considering all the thousands of touch points in a market?

      The state is not banning spectators from any arena, the governing bodies are doing that (NCAA, MLB, Venue Owners etc..) not the state of CA or any other state for that matter. You are severely misguided, mislead, or are just exceptionally ignorant and my guess is a big ol Trump supporter!

      Reply
    • March 15, 2020 at 3:56 pm
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      If you read the protocols established by the Dept. of Health, casinos should probably be avoided as they likely would have more than 250 at any one time and social distancing would not be possible. Movie theaters might be acceptable if they are crowded. These are guidelines, not mandates. It’s up to us as citizens to use common sense and follow the protocols.

      Reply
  • March 12, 2020 at 11:22 am
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    What do you recommend for an HOA board meeting?

    There are 7 board members and usually 35 people in the audience.
    Most of the audience is over age 65 as are three of the board members.

    Reply
    • March 13, 2020 at 1:04 am
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      The members need to exercise personal responsibility and the board should allow remote dial-in or video conferencing. Since this group meets regularly and is local to the area, consider the risk of community spread in your area. Regardless, the governor is asking for all groups to maintain distance of six feet. As a previous post pointed out, this is guidance, not law. Safest route is to postpone the meeting until after April 13th and re-evaluate then.

      Reply
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  • March 12, 2020 at 5:28 pm
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    The big victims of the Coronavirus won’t be people dying(way below the normal flu deaths every year). It will be the economy as event after event(like St.Patricks parades) is cancelled and normal businesses(sports leagues; Broadway; colleges; bars; restaurants; Disneyland; DisneyWorld; school districts; ship cruises; airline flights; concerts; music festivals; museums; etc; etc close down). Wall st is reflecting economic damage by taking the biggest dive in the shortest time since the 1929 crash that kicked off the Depression. Let’s all give a big thank you to China and their horrendous open air food markets that spread disease from animals to humans that have been responsible for the last 3 global virus pandemics.

    Reply
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  • March 13, 2020 at 2:49 pm
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    What about extending unemployment? How do I get interviews. I need help!

    Reply
  • March 14, 2020 at 10:59 pm
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    What about the Adult Day Health Care facilities through out the entire state that are comprised of senior citizens groups of 100+ members funded by Medi-Cal when will those close? The senior members are still attending because they are being told by the administration in those places that they haven’t received any orders to close, they sound extremely similar to assisted living facilities yet these senior citizens do have a homes where they reside and being that most seniors have some type of chronic health issue ranging from diabetes to autoimmune illnesses in my opinion these are potential hot spots for a very high domino effect once one member contracts The Coronoavirus.

    Reply
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  • April 10, 2020 at 12:10 am
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    You say it’s not enforced but clearly it is, what authority does any governor have to give power to the police to deprive a citizen of right to travel, right to assemble, and liberty to pursuit happiness as it’s seen fit to do so! Code of federal regulations title 42 section 60 gives only authority to quarantine and isolate the sick, and contagious, never the general public in good health! These orders are withstanding to constitutional restrictions on actions of government.

    Reply
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