FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The 33rd annual Kids Day fundraiser has been canceled to avoid spreading viruses, such as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Valley Children's Hospital announced Thursday.
The fundraiser has benefited the hospital since 1987. Each year, thousands of volunteers line up on street corners in the Central Valley selling special editions of the Fresno Bee for $1.
Volunteers raised almost $650,000 last year.
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"Every Kids Day, the support of our volunteers and donors has directly resulted in improving the care we give to some of the most critically ill children in our region," said Valley Children's Healthcare Foundation President Rob Saroyan.
"We are so thankful to the communities for helping us provide hope and healing. This year, we're asking everyone to help us in a different way - by doing everything they can to protect the health of their own families. We thank the sponsors and volunteers who were already gearing up for Kids Day, understand their disappointment and look forward to seeing them on Kids Day next year," he added.
Kids Day puts a lot of people close together, taking money from strangers, and handling cash that could've traveled, and the hospital's CEO says it wouldn't be responsible.
"So we don't want to do anything that puts them at risk, even if it's just for one morning. It's just not worth it. If one person were to test positive for this virus after Kids Day, I wouldn't be able to sleep," said Valley Children's Hospital CEO Todd Suntrapak.
Suntrapak says the decision and new restrictions at the hospital are based on guidance from the CDC, from their own infectious disease specialists, and from colleagues in other countries bearing the brunt of the outbreak.
Valley Children's Hospital has changed its visitor policy effective immediately. The new policy allows only parents, guardians, and direct caregivers access into all of the hospital's locations across the Valley, including their urgent care, specialty care, and primary care practices.
The foundation has also canceled its upcoming sponsored events until "this particular virus is better understood and better controlled."
On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency after one person died from the COVID-19 virus. The state currently has 53 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
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Several other companies have canceled or suspended operations due to the virus.