The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling on organizers to cancel any events that involve 50 or more people for the next eight weeks in an effort to slow down the spread of the new coronavirus. The CDC said its recommendations apply to any type of gathering, including conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, and weddings. It isn’t meant as a guidance for the daily activities of schools, universities, and businesses.
“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,” the CDC said in its recommendations. Smaller events should only go ahead if “they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing,” the CDC said, urging organizers to modify any events to be virtual.
The new recommendations likely mean that it will be much longer than initially expected before professional sports leagues can return to normal. The NBA, MLS, and NHL had all suspended their seasons through March, but the initial 30-day timeline now looks likely to be extended until mid-May at the earliest. Baseball had also delayed the start of the new season at least until April 9 but the wait is likely to be a lot longer. The new guidelines “would appear to force the NBA and NHL to choose between a truncated season or a mid-summer championship,” notes the Los Angeles Times. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote on Twitter that several NBA owners “increasingly believe a best case scenario is a mid-to-late June return to play—with no fans.”
The CDC’s recommendations came as covid-19 infections across the country increased to more than 3,200 and the death toll rose to 64. Amid the new guidelines, President Donald Trump told Americans to “relax” and not hoard food. “You don’t have to buy so much,” Trump said. “Take it easy. Relax.”