For Immediate Release
March 13, 2020
HEALTH DEPARTMENT RECOMMENDS CANCELING LARGE GATHERINGS
Cowlitz County Health & Human Services is recommending the cancellation of large gatherings of more than 250 people in order to minimize the potential health impacts of COVID-19.
This Public Health recommendation applies to gatherings of 250 people or more, including concerts, festivals, conferences, conventions, worship services, sporting events and other similar events or activities. At this time, recommendations do not apply to school attendance, businesses, grocery and retail stores.
Cowlitz County Health and Human Services is making these recommendations in an abundance of caution. There is no evidence of widespread transmission of COVID-19 in Cowlitz County, which still has no lab-confirmed cases. This could change as commercial labs ramp up testing capacity. These recommendations are being made in an effort to help protect those in our communities who are at risk for severe illness and lessen the impact to our health care system.
At this time, school closures are not being recommended by Public Health. 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 schools must be weighed against these impacts. Individual school districts may make closure decisions as appropriate for their districts.
The recommendations for large gatherings align Cowlitz County with similar restrictions in place in the Puget Sound area, in Clark County, 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.
Additional Public Health recommendations
Cowlitz County Health and Human Services is recommending, but not requiring, that people at higher risk avoid 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.
There are many everyday practices to aid in preventing colds, influenza and other respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19. Cowlitz County Health and Human Services continues to urge people to 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.
A Washington call center can answer questions about the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), how it spreads and what to do if you have symptoms. Call 1-800-525-0127 and press #. Local updates will be posted on the Cowlitz County novel coronavirus webpage www.co.cowlitz.wa.us/COVID-19.