Merced County Times Newspaper
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COVID-19 caution sees local schools, organizations postpone events

 

As the COVID-19 virus, commonly referred to as the Coronavirus, continues to cause concern among citizens both across the nation and locally, community and organizational leaders have continued to take steps to help prevent the spread of the illness. Prompted by California Governor Gavin Newsom’s comments regarding the virus and suggestion to limit large gatherings, numerous organizations both locally and across the state have implemented strategies to help limit the further spread of the virus. Local officials with the Merced County Department of Public Health stress that at this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Merced County, and the suggested measures organizations are taking are aimed at protecting public health and slowing the rate of transmission of COVID-19.

Organizations postponing gatherings include UC Merced, the Merced County Courthouse Museum, Merced County, the Merced Union High School District, the Merced City School District, the Heart for Art program sponsored by the Retired Teachers Association, and others. Larger events throughout the state of California that have canceled their planned March events due to concerns related to the Corona Virus outbreak include the NCAA, who on Thursday announced that the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would not be held, and Disney who will be closing its California theme park — starting March 14 through the end of the month — because of the coronavirus outbreak. Disneyland Resort hotels will remain open until March 16 so guests can make necessary travel accommodations, and the decision to close the attractions marks the fourth time in history that Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., has fully suspended operations. The other instances were Sept. 11 attacks, the morning after JFK’s assassination and the Northridge earthquake.

At the local level, the Merced City School District and the Merced Union High School District noted that while a school closure at this time is not being considered, all school events including assemblies, field trips, sporting events, and professional development are canceled until further notice. Social distancing of 6 feet or more is being encouraged and attendance at public events with 250 people or more is being discouraged as a way to prevent the spread of coronavirus

UC Merced is also taking additional steps to ensure those on campus remain healthy, with UC Merced Interim Chancellor saying that “While we are not aware of any Merced County cases of COVID-19, at UC Merced we are taking all necessary precautions to protect our students, faculty and staff — including familiarizing ourselves with the amazing work of Mercy Medical Center, Merced County health officials and our city partners,” said Nathan Brostrom, interim chancellor of the university. “We are moving toward remote delivery of coursework and considering other ways to reduce face to face contact on campus, while still maintaining the essential services that resident students need to be healthy and safe and continue their education.”

Across the city at The Courthouse Museum, the Merced County Historical Society’s Executive Director released a statement today regarding the opening of their “Portraits” exhibit that was planned to begin showing residents the lives of influential women throughout Merced County’s existence as part of Women’s History Month. In her statement Lim said “We are not having the reception and program tonight for the “Portraits” exhibit, but we will extend the museum hours until 6 p.m” for those who would like to come by as a smaller group or individually to see the work.

At the county level, the Merced County Department of Public Health continues to release information regarding the COVID-19 virus to help residents protect themselves. Officials with the Department note that although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Merced County at this time, they would like to take the opportunity to remind everyone of the County’s COVID-19 webpage and share a series of updates that have recently been placed into the webpage.

  • Daily Status Reports: Daily Status Reports continue to be posted to the coronavirus webpage under the “Coronavirus Media” tab.
  • Presentation: A PDF copy of Dr. Ken Bird’s COVID-19 presentation to the Board of Supervisors on March 10 is available under the “Coronavirus Media” tab along with the actual video from the meeting posted under the “Video: March 10 Update.” The video update of the presentation can be downloaded by clicking on the “Merced County Department of Public Health Update—Coronavirus” link, then “download” selected item. It can also be shared to social media from the same page.
  • Employer Resources: Additional guidance from OSHA was added under the “Business and Employers” tab.
  • Additional information, guidance documents and resources will be added as they become available.
  • The county’s webpage contains the most up-to-date information from Merced County. Please push it out through as many channels as you have available.

 

Following is a list of statements and event cancellation notices that orginizations have sent into the Merced County Times.

MERCED CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

Merced City School District is responding to new reports from the Merced County Department of Public Health, concerning the global coronavirus pandemic. There is now one confirmed case in nearby Stanislaus County, identified as a community transmission. No MCSD students or staff have tested positive.

The District is requiring anyone with fever and/or respiratory infection symptoms to stay away from school, to ensure all students and staff are protected. Absence policies will be adjusted to allow staff and students to stay home.

School visitors will be limited at this time.

All school events including assemblies, field trips, sporting events, and professional development are canceled until further notice.

Social distancing is encouraged (six feet away or further.) Public events with 250 people or more should be avoided.

These steps are being taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus to Merced City School District.
These are the recommendations of the Merced County Department of Public Health. MCSD will continue to update families and staff as the situation develops.

 

MERCED UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT
In his latest memo, Superintendent Alan Peterson cites the latest precautions as recommended by the Merced County Department of Public Health (MDPH) and Governor Newsom.
Here are the latest updates:
-Effective immediately, ALL school events and functions will be suspended through Spring Break (mid-April). A re-evaluation will be made on April 1st, however events scheduled in April may also be subject to cancellation.
-The MDPH is currently not recommending the closure of schools, and we do not anticipate that occurrence, however plans are being made so that we will be prepared for such a scenario.

 

UC MERCED

“While we are not aware of any Merced County cases of COVID-19, at UC Merced we are taking all necessary precautions to protect our students, faculty and staff — including familiarizing ourselves with the amazing work of Mercy Medical Center, Merced County health officials and our city partners,” said Nathan Brostrom, interim chancellor of the university. “We are moving toward remote delivery of coursework and considering other ways to reduce face to face contact on campus, while still maintaining the essential services that resident students need to be healthy and safe and continue their education.”

 

COURTHOUSE MUSEUM CANCELS RECEPTION

Following the latest guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) regarding public gatherings, we have decided to CANCEL tonight’s opening reception and program for the “Beyond Appearance: Portraits of Merced County Women” exhibit at the Courthouse Museum.

Instead, we will OPEN the exhibit today at 1 p.m. and extend the museum hours to 6 p.m. for our visitors. Please keep in mind that the exhibit is on display from today to June 14 during the regular museum hours.

 

CASTLE AIR MUSEUM

As the situation regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, we want to reiterate to you that the health and safety of our visitors, staff, and volunteers is our first and foremost priority. We are taking every precaution and putting additional preventive actions in place as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). We want to share a few of the steps we are taking at the Museum.

  • The public areas of the Museum are being continuously cleaned as part of our normal course of business, and we will maintain rigorous standards including cleaning and disinfecting high-touch, high-traffic areas.
  • We have placed hand sanitizers, for use by our visitors and crew, throughout the Museum Gift Shop and high traffic areas. We also have ample replacement supplies on order.
  • Every member of the Museum staff has been charged with the highest standard of personal hygiene as well as taking responsibility for doing their part in maintaining cleanliness in their work area.
  • We are ensuring that everyone on the Museum has the information they need to stay healthy, and anyone not feeling well is being directed to stay home until they are fully recovered.
  • We will continue to follow the health and safety procedures established by the Centers for Disease Control and make adjustments to our procedures, as appropriate.
  • We will continue with our special events and fundraisers as planned for the time being.

Just as you are doing in your everyday activities, we are taking this public health concern seriously. Our protocols are based on guidance from the CDC and other world, U.S., and state and local health organizations, and their recommendations will continue to guide our business protocols and plans. We will continue to stay informed, but you can find current information on the CDC website.

As previously stated, we are totally committed to maintaining a safe environment for you during your visit to the Castle Air Museum. We sincerely appreciate your support and assistance during this ever evolving situation.

 

MERCED COLLEGE

Today after receiving new guidance regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) from Merced County Department of Public Health and in accordance with Governor Newsom’s latest statement regarding public gatherings, Merced College will begin moving toward remote learning.

The college is not closing and classes are not being cancelled. In order to help mitigate risk, we are instead moving towards remote forms of teaching for face-to-face classes including using digital tools when feasible. The purpose of this shift is to reduce interpersonal contact and promote social distancing which is designed to help lessen the spread of the virus.

To date, no student, faculty or staff at Merced College has tested positive for COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution, and based on evolving information about the spread of COVID-19 across the country and world, community members should know that:

  • • Essential services for students remain open and accessible
  • All non-essential activities and events will be postponed or cancelled
  • All face-to-face classes will be converted to remote instruction. Some select classes (i.e. labs) will proceed with face-to-face meetings.
  • Disinfection practices are being implemented college-wide
  • All departments and programs will be open and fully staffed during this time

The health and safety of the Merced College community continues to be our highest priority. Merced College is taking all necessary precautions and working with public health officials. We will continue to provide updates as they become available. For the most updated information please visit: http://www.mccd.edu/news/covid-19-update.

 

ROTARY CLUB SHRIMP FEED

Meanwhile, community groups are reconsidering upcoming events.

The Rotary Club of Merced Sunrise has announced postponement of its annual Bob Hobbs Memorial Shrimp Feed.

The popular event was to be held at the Merced County Fairgrounds on March 21.

The gathering usually draws in more than 700 people who pack the Pavilion building.

In a statement to the Times, Rotary Club President Pope Lawrence said: “Out of an abundance of caution, given the emerging COVID-19 virus and based upon guidance from public health officials, the club has decided to defer to a future date its annual fundraiser. More information to ticket holders and sponsors will be forthcoming as soon as it is available. Your understanding of our decision is greatly appreciated.”

 

MERCED COUNTY FARM BUREAU

The Merced County Farm Bureau has been monitoring the discussion on the recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Given the recommendations by Governor Newsom and after much discussion, we have elected to postpone our Annual Dinner that was scheduled to take place on Friday, March 20. We are actively in the process of rescheduling and will be reaching out to all sponsors, ticket holders, etc. to personally inform them of our actions. Please reach out to our office at (209)723-3001 if you have any questions or concerns.

Other Upcoming Events in March

  • 3-31: UCANR CE meetings
  • 17: CWA Annual Spring Luncheon – Postponed to September 15th
  • 17: Ag Energy Workshop – Chowchilla – Postponed
  • 20:  MCFB Annual Meeting  – Postponed
  • 26:  AgSafe AB5 Webinar
  • 28: Mariposa County Farm Bureau’s Rib BBQ – Postponed

 

PUBLIC TRANSIT

The Bus and Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) public transit systems have put preventative measures in place to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

Effective immediately, enhanced disinfecting procedures will be used daily to clean all frequently contacted surfaces on all buses and coaches.

“The health and safety of our passengers is our first priority,” said Christine Chavez, Transit Manager for YARTS and The Bus. “These proactive measures will help prevent the spread of infection should the virus become present in any of the communities we serve.”

Passengers are encouraged to wash their hands often, cover all coughs and sneezes, stay home when sick, and avoid direct contact with sick individuals. For more information about COVID-19, please visit the Center for Disease Control website: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.

The Bus is the single public transportation service provider for all of Merced County and is administered by the Transit Joint Powers Authority for Merced County and managed by the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG).

All bus schedules and hours of operation can be found at www.mercedthebus.com or by calling The Bus at (209) 723-3100.

 

CORONAVIRUS ATTACKS HEART FOR ART
Concerns about the coronavirus canceled the Heart for Art program sponsored by the Retired Teachers Association.  The Franklin honors choir was to perform at the multi-medial Arts Center of Merced at 10:30  Tuesday, March 17th .  A gathering of young people with retirees  seems  unwise with the spread of the disease.

 

DISNEYLAND

Disney has temporarily closed its California theme park — starting March 14 through the end of the month — because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Disneyland Resort hotels will remain open until March 16 so guests can make necessary travel accommodations.

It’s only the fourth time in history that Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., has fully suspended operations. The other instances were Sept. 11 attacks, the morning after JFK’s assassination and the Northridge earthquake.

It’s unclear if Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., will remain open.

 

‘MARCH MADNESS’ ENDS

The NCAA tournament for men’s and women’s basketball has been canceled, the NCAA announced Thursday, as concerns over the spread of coronavirus continued to rise across the country.

 

TURLOCK CONCERT ASSOCIATION

The Board of the Turlock Concert Association, in accordance with the recommendations of the Governor of California, has decided to postpone the Orquesta Dharma concert scheduled for Thursday, March 19, 2020 at the Turlock Community Auditorium.  The concert will be rescheduled for a date to be determined.

 

 

As this story develops, editors and staff with the Merced County Times will continue to update the information available within this article as new facts and figures become available.

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