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Updated March 16, 1:43 p.m.–
Sentinel staff report– Numerous local events, meetings and church services have been cancelled or postponed in Citrus Heights, following calls by public health officials to halt larger gatherings statewide in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
In addition to an announcement Thursday that all schools in the county will be closed for at least the next three weeks, Sunrise MarketPlace announced its upcoming Spring has Sprung event has been “postponed until further notice,” and the Citrus Heights Chamber of Commerce said its annual installation and awards dinner has been postponed for at least 30 days.
One of the largest congregations in the city, Bayside Church of Citrus Heights, also announced Thursday that it is suspending all services and activities at its Sylvan Road campus for the next three weeks and will instead be live-streaming services on its website and Facebook live on Sundays.
In a four-minute video update about Bayside’s decision, Pastor Craig Sweeney cited a biblical passage from 2 Timothy 1:7, telling his congregation: “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but power, love and self discipline, or a sound mind.” He also said he does not anticipate a need to lay off any church staff, but “un-apologetically” called on his congregation to continue giving to the church while services are suspended.
Additional notices were sent out by area businesses, as well as the Sacramento Library and the Citrus Heights Water District. Water officials advised in a Facebook post that COVID-19 “has not been detected in drinking water systems,” while the public library system said its locations countywide will remain open, but programs and outreach will be cancelled. Public libraries in the county will also not be accepting new meeting room reservations.
Local businesses are also advising customers of changes in light of virus mitigation efforts. Lafitte Music Center on Madison Avenue posted a social media update on Friday and said it will continue offering music instruction, with the added option to participate in online remote lessons for those wishing to stay home.
Cancellations and postponements followed calls from public health and state officials on Thursday to postpone or cancel “non-essential” gatherings of more than 250 people, as well as follow social distancing guidelines when in smaller groups.
Thursday’s announcement marks a strategic shift from a quarantine approach to mitigation as a way to slow the spread of the virus. In an interview with The Sacramento Bee, Dr. Peter Beilenson, who heads Sacramento County’s Department of Health Services explained the shift, which has led to event cancellations and school closures as mitigation efforts increase.
“Once you get a certain number of cases, it’s hard to continue to contact-trace back the way you tried originally, so we move to mitigation,” Beilenson told The Bee. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says mitigation efforts like social distancing are an effective strategy to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and also help protect a community’s healthcare system from becoming overburdened by mass hospitalizations.
Health experts also recommend regular hand washing with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds — using alcohol-based hand sanitizer — avoiding contact with people who are sick, and disinfecting frequently touched items daily.
As of Friday, the CDC reported a total of 1,629 cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with 41 deaths.
Update: As of Monday, the CDC now reports a total of 3,487 cases and 68 deaths in the United States.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement Thursday that each person has “extraordinary power to slow the spread of this disease,” echoing prevention advice from health officials to halt larger gatherings. “Changing our actions for a short period of time will save the life of one or more people you know.”
For more on the strategy behind mitigation efforts, see article in the New York Times: Flattening the Coronavirus Curve.
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