Lexington Mayor recommends cancelling, postponing events

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Dr. Kraig Humbaugh, with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, and Mayor Linda Gorton discuss preparedness plans for COVID-19 (coronavirus) during a stakeholders meeting March 3, 2020. Photo by Amy Wallot

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Citing the advice of local, state and federal health officials, Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton recommended Thursday postponing or cancelling public events planned in the city.

Gorton and Commissioner of Health Kraig Humbaugh made the recommendation for all “in-person public events” during a press conference Thursday afternoon. She did not mandate closures but instead issued guidelines for event organizers to consider.

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“Although this will be painful for some groups, we know we must do everything we can to protect the lives of our citizens,” Gorton said.

COVID-19 is thought to be primarily spread through close contact with those who are infected, so transmission is possible within gatherings. Limiting physical contact with others can help reduce the spread of the disease, protecting those at highest risk of severe illness, such as seniors, and those with chronic diseases. When possible, organizers should consider alternate options to in-person gatherings for accomplishing the goals of their event, such as using technology as way for people to participate, they said.

“Several events have already been canceled around town. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association has canceled the boys’ and girls’ Sweet 16 tournaments; the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University have switched to on-line instruction; and people are avoiding large public gatherings,” Gorton said. “Thank you to all of our citizens. You are doing a great job following the precautions we have outlined. That will make all the difference in getting us past this.”

The two said event organizers should consider the age and health status of attendees. People over 60 years of age or those with chronic medical conditions have been advised to avoid public gatherings.

They also should consider the ability for regular cleaning measures for high-touch areas during event and the ability to provide opportunities for good hand washing and availability of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

The ability for social distancing, especially for indoor events, also should be considered. The ability to screen people who show signs of an illness also should be considered, they said.

The ability to recall attendees should a coronavirus case arise later also is important.