People who were hoping that a weekend spent inside would be all that it took to curb the spread of coronavirus in the United States could be in for a rude awakening.
On Sunday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they recommend that a ban be put in place on gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks. That would mean such events would be not allowed through right before Memorial Day weekend.
The CDC said these events could include everything from professional sporting events, concerts and theater shows to local festivals, parades, church assemblies and even weddings.
In the new guidelines it issued Sunday, the CDC said organizers should “cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.
“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 big shutdown began last week when major sporting events became the first things to go. The NBA and NHL put their seasons on hold, for now, and there are obvious concerns that they won’t return until next season because of coronavirus. The NCAA cancelled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments first, and then proceeded to cancel all championships for both winter and spring sports.
MLB has delayed its season at least two weeks, but it seems unlikely players return to the baseball field in that short amount of time … and when they do, it could be without fans in attendance.
Universities followed suit by sending students home and moving classes for the foreseeable future to online means. Then came large closures of public K-12 school districts, despite the challenges that come with ensuring all students have internet access to connect remotely and that plenty of children in America get their main meals each day from school.
Other large places of gatherings such as concert halls, New York City theaters and Disney parks closed after that, followed by more local bans — from gatherings of more than 250 people in some states, all the way to more than 50 people in others.
But as many Americans ignored the warnings over the weekend and headed out to bars and restaurants to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, it seemed like more forcible bans are going to be coming our way soon.
As the now famous Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said:
“For a while, life is not going to be the way it used to be in the United States. We have to just accept that if we want to do what’s best for the American public.”
As of Sunday night, there were almost 3,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus spread across 49 states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Island and Puerto Rico. The only state without confirmed case so far is West Virginia. Of that number, at least 65 people have died. But as Fauci said Saturday: “We have not yet reached our peak.