Day to day, minute to minute, we are learning more about the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, particularly how it is impacting us here in the State of Utah. As a follow-up from our previous email sent last week, we wanted to ensure that our Utah cultural organizations understand the current recommended precautions from the Utah Coronavirus Task Force, led by Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox with the support of Governor Gary R. Herbert.
As many of you have likely heard, the Governor and the Utah Coronavirus Task Force strongly encourage the cancellation of any gathering of more than 100 people beginning Monday, March 16, for at least two weeks. These measures are intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Additionally, any gatherings where people cannot be at least six feet apart are being recommended for cancellation or postponement. Adults over the age of 60 or those with underlying health symptoms should avoid all gatherings, as should anybody feeling sick, especially with symptoms that include fever, shortness of breath, and cough.
Although these are only recommendations and not outright prohibitions, we would strongly encourage everyone to consider cancelling or postponing any planned events until health officials can better determine the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. For those who still choose to host events, please amplify the message of safe hygiene, social distancing, and staying home if sick. If you do choose to cancel events, please remember to adjust your event listing on nowplayingutah.com.
Over the next two weeks, testing for COVID-19 will increase significantly and allow state officials to provide further guidelines. During that interval, it is imperative that every Utahn take every step possible to prevent the spread of the virus.
We also recommend that you look ahead at your schedule of programming and events, beyond this two week period. If new recommendations are made, or if the current recommendations are continued, it is important that you have the ability to make any additional cancellations, postponements, or adjustments that are necessary.
Additionally, institutions of higher education throughout the state have moved to online classes and minimized on-campus gatherings for the weeks ahead. K-12 public schools have not been closed statewide, but local school districts will have the opportunity to make their own decisions on potential closures. If your organization has upcoming programming with local schools, we encourage you to reach out to those individual schools to find out about their ongoing decisions and to make collaborative decisions on how best to proceed.
Of course, previously recommended precautions still apply. Remind people to wash their hands frequently, and provide hand sanitizer throughout your facility. Wipe down countertops and other surfaces frequently with sterilizing wipes. Train volunteers and staff to limit physical contact with visitors. Remind staff or volunteers to stay home if they have any signs of illness. If possible, take steps now to prepare your staff for remote work if a closure is ordered, and ensure you have an emergency communication system in place.
As always, we are available to answer any questions or concerns you have. State offices for the Department of Heritage & Arts are still open for regular business, and we will keep you updated if our staff is asked to work remotely in the weeks ahead. Regardless, we will still be available throughout this time by phone and email. Additionally, the state is providing regular updates at coronavirus.utah.gov, and national resources are also available at cdc.gov.
Victoria Panella Bourns