CDC recommends canceling events with 50 or more people for the next eight weeks throughout US

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people across the U.S. to cancel or postpone any events with 50 or more attendees for the next eight weeks to try to contain the fast-moving coronavirus outbreak, the agency said in revised guidance issued Sunday.

The CDC said individuals and organizations should reschedule large events and that gatherings of any size should be reconsidered unless organizers can protect vulnerable populations, ensure proper hand hygiene and social distancing. 

“Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities,” the CDC said. It cited conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of events as examples of gatherings that should be postponed.

The guidance doesn’t apply to schools, universities or businesses, the CDC said. 

The COVID-19 outbreak has quickly infected nearly every state in the U.S. in the matter of weeks, spreading from roughly 100 people on March 1 to almost 3,300 people by Sunday, according to data compiled by the CDC, World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins University. The virus has already killed 62 people in the U.S. and the number of infections and deaths here will continue to rise, public officials say. Thousands of cases are suspected, but haven’t been diagnosed yet, because of delays and constraints on testing, state and local leaders have complained.

Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is likely to see a similar spread of COVID-19 as China, South Korea and Italy, where the new coronavirus has millions of people under lockdown and has shuttered commerce.

“What makes you think that the virus in China, the virus in South Korea, the virus in Italy wasn’t going to react any differently than the virus here?” he said. “You are going to see the same trajectory that you saw in China, South Korea and Italy, and it is going to happen here as the virus spreads because of the way it is actually contagious.”

COVID-19 emerged from Wuhan, China less than three months ago. As a new virus, humans don’t have any natural immunity to it, scientists say. Across the world, it’s spread to more than 162,000 people, killing more than 6,000. WHO officials declared a global pandemic on Wednesday. 

The number of cases outside of China, the epicenter of the outbreak, increased thirteenfold “and the number of affected countries has tripled,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said just before declaring a global pandemic Wednesday. He said the number of cases and deaths will rise in the coming weeks and he scolded some world leaders for failing to act quickly enough or drastically enough to contain the spread.

“We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” he said. “We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.” 

Read the CDC’s new guidance below:

Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.

Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing.  When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.

This recommendation does not apply to the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses. This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus.  This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates. 

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