Crackdowns on public gatherings as infections rise

St. Patrick's Day bar crawl in Chicago this year. Coronavirus? What's that?
As shutdowns and cancellations continue, others ignore the warning and party hardy.

After too many photos of revelers in bars on Social Media this weekend, state and local governments are shutting down nightspots and limiting the number of patrons they serve.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Sunday ordered a stop to public gatherings of 100 or more in any one spot until at least March 29 and perhaps longer.

Officials in Ohio and Illinois ordered bars and restaurants to close. The Federal Reserve cut prime lending rates to zero, effective Sunday night.

Virginia has 45 cases of coronavirus confirmed at 5 p.m. EST Sunday with one death in James River County, the area where Jamestown and Williamsburg are located.

Some churches in Floyd County canceled services Sunday while others kept their doors open with messages “to come and pray for those who are so affected by this coronavirus.”

Some 500 in the congregation of Christ Episcopal Church in Georgetown in Washington may have thought the same thing when they attended communion and shook hands with Rev. Timothy Cole, who later tested positive for the virus and are now urged to self-quarantine themselves for at least 14 days. Several were later diagnosed as infected.

With more than 169,204 cases of the virus worldwide and 6,492 deaths, going to church my not have been a way to fight infection, especially in a heavily-Catholic country like Italy, a nation with more than 24,747 infections and 1,809 deaths.

New York, Chicago and Washington, DC, canceled its St. Patrick’s Day Parades but the Irish bars were full in all three cities. In New Orleans, police had to disband a large crowd of St. Patrick’s revelers Saturday night.  Louisiana reported its first death from the virus on the same day.

“We saw a lot of crowds out and about today, and I need to be frank: we can have a massive positive effect on bending this transmission curve — thereby saving lives — if people take this seriously,” wrote  Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker on Twitter.

“If you are young & healthy, listen up. We need you to follow social distancing guidelines too. You may only have mild symptoms for a few days & think you’re just fine. But you can have the unintended, tragic effect of spreading #COVID19 to others who may be more vulnerable.”

Here in Floyd, the Country Store canceled the Friday Night Jamboree and postponed a Saturday evening concert by the Lonesome River Band as part of a cutback in ticketed events through the end of this month or, possibly, longer.

Among other local venues, some did the same while others did not.

For those who stayed in for the weekend, they did not have televised sports. The NCAA March madness tournament is canceled. So is the NBA schedule. The start of major league baseball is on hold. NASCAR races are suspended. So are IndyCar and Formula One.

High School and college sports are on hold. The Virginia High School League pulled the plug on the state high school league basketball tournaments after just one class of finals were held. For Floyd County High School, the Class 2C basketball girls championship final was one by Gate City, who knocked the Lady Buffaloes out of the tournament in the quarterfinals.

School field trips are canceled, including one to DisneyWorld and those who made deposits may not get their money back.

School is out until at least March 27 and the closing could last longer.  Colleges are closed and students who brave Spring Break are expecting to return home for online classes and not a return to campuses. Colleges and universities are canceling graduations.

Some Virginia counties are closing their courthouses for the time being.  No word yet is that will happen in Floyd.

Democratic presidential challengers Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders debate tonight in a studio setting with no audience. Washington’s Cherry Blossom Festival is called off. Museums and other attractions around the country are closed.

Much of America and the world is in a pause unlike anything ever seen before.

Notes The New York Times:

Not since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has a crisis enveloped so much of the economy so quickly. Broadway is dark. The college basketball tournaments are canceled and professional sports are on indefinite hold. Conferences, concerts and St. Patrick’s Day parades have been called off or postponed. Even Disneyland — which stayed open through a recession a decade ago that wiped out millions of American jobs and trillions of dollars in wealth — is shuttered.

“This hits the heart of the economy, and it hits the economy on all sides,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton. “It’s not just that we’re slowing down things. We’re actually hitting the pause button, and there is no precedent, there is no mold for that.”

A week ago, San Francisco real estate agent Kalena Masching was selling million dollar homes at a good place. No more.

“Last week, I would have told you nothing had changed,” she said. “This week, it has all gone to hell.”

Grocery Stores report shortages and are considering cutting hours. Retailers like Walmart that are open 24-hours-a-day will probably close overnight to provide more cleaning and restocking.

Restaurant cutbacks will bring layoffs. Some may close and much may never reopen.  JP Morgan Chase says the crisis will cause the U.S. economy to retract in the first two quarters of this year, a situation that meets the common definition of a recession. A report released Thursday by academic economists predicts a “major recession.”


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© 2021 Blue Ridge Muse