Gov. Newsom recommends canceling gatherings over 250 people due to coronavirus pandemic

LOS ANGELES -- From sporting events to concerts and business conferences, California state health officials are recommending the cancellation of any gatherings of more than 250 people to help contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The California Department of Public Health is asking for the cancellations at least through the end of March.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday morning that there are 198 cases of COVID-19 in the state of California, which amounts to a 10% increase from Wednesday. There have been four deaths so far.

Newsom also said 8,227 testing kits are available, and 1,573 tests were conducted in California. The governor added that Quest Diagnostics is conducting 1,200 tests a day.

The guidelines issued by the department and by the office of Gov. Gavin Newsom appear to be recommendations and not a mandate at this time. But Newsom said following the recommendations can help save lives and slow the spread of the disease.

"Changing our actions for a short period of time will save the life of one or more people you know," Newsom said.

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"That's the choice before us. Each of us has extraordinary power to slow the spread of this disease. Not holding that concert or community event can have cascading effects - saving dozens of lives and preserving critical health care resources that your family may need a month from now."

The department says limiting such gatherings can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help preserve the resources of the health care system.

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Smaller events can proceed only if organizers can keep people at least six feet apart to avoid transmission of the virus. Gatherings for people at higher risk for severe illness should be no more than 10 people, including at retirement facilities, assisted living facilities, developmental homes and support groups for people with health conditions.

"As with all guidance that relates to COVID-19 response, authorities will revisit this guidance on a regular basis to evaluate the continued public health need for it and to evaluate if any elements need to be changed," CDPH said in a written statement outlining the policy.

The policy does not apply to school classes.
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