Event organizers and school districts in Santa Barbara County have begun to postpone and cancel upcoming events and activities after an announcement from Gov. Gavin Newsom advising the cancellation of all mass gatherings to prevent community transmission of the coronavirus.
The governor’s announcement states that all public gatherings and events of 250 or more people should be postponed or cancelled at least through the end of March.
A “gathering” is defined in the announcement as any event bringing people together into a single indoor or outdoor space, including auditoriums, stadiums, conference rooms and cafeterias.
Public school districts
Santa Maria Joint Union High School District has canceled all nonessential activities besides instructional classes through the end of March, including field trips, athletic events and practices, dances, professional events and large meetings. All community events held at school facilities will be canceled as well.
The district, which includes Pioneer Valley, Santa Maria, Ernest Righetti and Delta high schools, is instructed along with all other school districts within the Santa Barbara County Education Office to follow the guidelines set forth by the governor's office.
"In response to this morning’s information from Governor Newsom and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), K-12 districts in Santa Barbara County including the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District are united in their decision to cancel or postpone non-essential travel and events for students and staff through at least the remainder of March," district spokesperson Kenny Klein said.
Allan Hancock College has canceled multiple events, including CTE Junior Day on March 13 and all remaining performances of Julius Caesar at Severson Theatre through March 22 and of the Dance Spectrum Spring 2020 showcase at Marian Theatre through March 15.
Postponed events include the Concert Band performance on March 28 and the Allison Leigh Holt Art Exhibition and Artist Talk organized at the Ann Foxworthy Gallery, scheduled April 2 through May 10. The gallery will be closed through the end of April.
Classes are scheduled to continue as normal.
The City of Santa Maria has not announced whether the March 28 Open Streets celebration or Downtown Fridays, which begin April 10, will be canceled or postponed.
The 2030 Summit on March 16 hosted by REACH, formerly known as the Hourglass Project, has been postponed. However, the signing of the memorandum of understanding at Vandenberg Air Force Base that same morning will still take place.
As of Wednesday, the California Public Health Department has reported 177 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in California. There are still no confirmed cases in Santa Barbara County, and the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is currently monitoring 14 asymptomatic residents who had recently traveled to China.
According to the county health department, local hospitals and health care professionals can now request tests through state labs, without needing approval from the county health officer, if an individual shows strong symptoms of the virus. Positive results of samples sent in must be reported immediately to the county health department.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has also created a portal for all coronavirus news and updates in the county.
Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.
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