Coronavirus: CDC advises postponement of events for next 8 weeks

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance for mass gathering or large community events Sunday and recommends groups and individuals postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States for the next 8 weeks.

According to the CDC, 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.

Examples included conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings and other types of assemblies.

The CDC says events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.

We spoke to people in downtown Fort Myers after the update to CDC recommendations. We witnessed decent-sized crowds throughout the day, with restaurants still packed with patrons celebrating the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. But the CDC and Gov. Ron DeSantis say that is not the way to stop the spread of coronavirus among community members.

Chris Johnson was visiting Fort Myers with his wife from up north when we spoke to him. He told us they have planned their trip to Southwest Florida for months, and they were not going to let the virus keep them away.

“I’m probably in the group demographics that could be affected by it, but we still wanted to do our trip,” Johnson said.

Other visitors felt similarly to Johnson and his wife.

“I think you should be able to get out and do whatever,” visitor Debra Sutton said.

During the governor’s press conference to end the weekend and update the status of coronavirus in the state, he shared his views against partying into late-night hours and neglecting the guidelines shared by CDC, Florida Department of Health and other agencies.

“Missing out on staying out and drinking at a bar, that is not the end of the world,” DeSantis said. “You’re going to have time to do that the rest of your life. What you don’t want is to be someone who is helping to spread this illness.”

MORE: Get Your Mass Gatherings or Large Community Events Ready

California and several other states announced bar and restaurant closures. Officials in Miami and Fort Lauderdale already started closing parts of the beaches and ordering curfews.

John O’Connor says these are all necessary steps to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

“I think that this is unprecedented what we have going on here,” O’Connor said. “And I think it’s better to err on the side of caution rather than to take a risk.”

The CDC recommendations do not apply to daily operations of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning or businesses.

This CDC recommendation is in attempt to help people reduce introduction of coronavirus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus. The CDC recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials.

We asked Mayor Anita Cereceda of the town of Fort Myers Beach if it will follow in the footsteps of cities such as Miami and Fort Lauderdale. She said the town has not made a decision yet.

The CDC is set to share more updates for guidelines related to coronavirus prevention Monday.


The Florida Department of Health has opened a 24-hour COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida Department of Health COVID-19 updates

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