Everything from the upcoming Manteca Garden Club meeting in the McFall Room of the library to the Crossroads Street Fair that lures upwards of 30,000 people into downtown have been cancelled or postponed due to the growing concerns over the coronavirus.
San Joaquin County Interim Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park declared a local emergency Thursday after the number of confirmed cases in the county reached three. The declaration sets aside bureaucratic roadblocks that can impede immediate responses to new cases and to avoid the spread of the disease.
What triggered the decision to postpone and cancel events was driven by new guidelines issued by the California Department of Public Heath to slow down the spread and thus the intensity of potential cases and deaths.
Those guidelines call for the
cancellation or postponement until at least March 31 of:
*large gatherings that include 250 people or more.
*small gatherings that do not allow for “social distancing” — the new bureaucratic jargon term for space — is six feet per person.
*gatherings of individuals who are at higher risk for serve illness from the coronavirus.
The guidelines are reaching into every corner of the community from bingo games to church services.
Crossroads Grace Community is among those cancelling in person worshipping services and going to online services instead. Some other churches are considering cancelling services outright.
“Crossroads has made a decision to have church of a different kind on Sundays for the public safety for the next couple weekends,” noted Crossroads Pastor of Outreach Jim Todd. “Due to recent issues we are not having services on site for two weeks, and we will re-evaluate after that. We do have an online option to take in the service which will be live. The building is not the church; the people are the church. Out of social concerns of larger gatherings we will continue to meet online.”
Although the Crossroads Street Fair isn’t unit April 4-5, Manteca Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joann Beattie noted the chamber had been told there is an extremely strong likelihood the guidelines will be extended well into April.
The annual street fair that had nearly 250 vendors committed may be postponed until Aug. 8-9.
Acting Assistant City Manager Lisa Blackmon noted that those with events that fall within the state guidelines have been informed that they will not be able to use city facilities until further notice.
That means tonight’s American Legion Post 249 roast of Tevani and Jeff Liotard planned will be postponed as well as the Manteca Historical Society’s Gourmet Sampler set for Sunday. Both events were scheduled for the Manteca Senior Center.
The senior center bingo games and spaghetti dinners have been cancelled as well as all classes. The senior center will be open for regular daily activities but “social distancing” of six feet between those in attendance will be enforced.
Manteca Unified cancels
some events such as concerts
Manteca Unified is working closely with public health authorities to monitor the situation.
Community Outreach Coordinator Victoria Brunn said some school site band and choir concerts have been cancelled as well as an Acorn League junior high track meet.
Other sporting events — all of which take place outdoors except for boys’ volleyball — are still taking place as they involve less people than the 250 benchmark established by the state guidelines. That said Brunn said school officials will be monitoring the situation regarding athletic competition. The governing organization for high school sports is currently pondering whether to suspend the spring sports seasons while a handful of school districts — such as Oakdale Unified School District — have made that decision on their own.
The district on Thursday — and again today — switched to an alternative lunch schedule for elementary schools. To avoid large groups of students gathering, students are visiting the cafeteria by class to receive their lunch and then return to the classroom to eat. In a bid to reduce the possible spread of germs the use of roster mode is being encouraged to record student meals.
High school lunches have be switched to “grab and go service” to avoid students gathering in the cafeteria.
The week-long Manteca Unified spring break starts Monday. All field trips have been cancelled.
Brunn said travel by families during spring break could impact efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. They are asking any family that travels to a country with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice with widespread on ongoing community spread of the virus to follow the Center for Disease Control guidelines to stay home when they return for a period of 14 days. If you travel to one of these countries you are asked to contact your student’s school site.
In communication sent to parents, school officials said “Manteca Unified School District takes this very seriously, and we continue to take precautions in our regular cleaning and disinfecting of the school sites. “Currently, there are no confirmed cases within our student or staff population. Per guidance from public health officials, we are not closing schools at this time, and we will continue to keep the public updated as more information is available.”
To help prevent the spread of the flu or any viruses, the district is urging students and others to continue to practice good hygiene including washing your hands for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; and when sneezing or coughing, be sure to cover your mouth by using a tissue. And if you are sick, to stay home.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org