As mayor, I want to let the community know, those who are here, those watching at home, and those who maybe following us on social media and our website; that your mayor, city council, city manager, and city department heads, particularly our fire and police, are actively engaged in monitoring and participating in discussions related to the COVID-19 Coronavirus. We are reviewing all government protocols at every level including federal, state, and county. Our number one priority is protecting the health and safety of our residents. The Coronavirus pandemic is a very fluid situation with new developments happening daily if not by the hour.
To our knowledge, there are no known cases of the virus in Cathedral City, but that could change. Testing of the virus is becoming more available and it is possible that we may see the numbers of those testing positive to increase. So far, 39% of those infected in the United States are over the age of 65, 59% are between the ages of 18 and 64, and 2% are between the ages of 0 and 17. Locally, we have one known case in our neighboring city that tested positive due to “community spread” as the source of the transmission. “Community Spread” means that the coronavirus is out there in the Coachella Valley and so it is important that our community follow the recommended best practices to protect the health and safety of you and your family.
There are two sources of information that I encourage everyone in the public to access and learn the steps necessary to help prevent the virus from spreading, it is www.rivcoph.org and then click on “Coronavirus”. If you do not have access to the internet, you can call the Office of Emergency Services for updated information at (951) 351-6865. The second reliable source is the California Department of Public Health’s website at www.cdph.ca.gov. These dedicated webpages provide the latest data and best practices for prevention and steps to take if you suspect that you or a loved one has been infected.
Remember, those at the highest risk for severe illness related to the virus are seniors and those who have chronic health conditions, compromised immune systems, pulmonary or breathing difficulties and related conditions. According to state guidelines, these individuals should avoid crowds, meetings, and events.
The main prevention recommendations are:
- Practice social distancing, particularly if you are in one of the vulnerable categories.
- Do not attend work, school or events if you are ill. Stay home.
- Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizers often, that contain an alcohol content of 60% or greater.
- Stay away from anyone who is sick
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or tissue. If a tissue, immediately throw it away.
Additionally, the California Department of Public Health has released its guidelines for mass gatherings. It states that event organizers for mass gatherings and large community events in counties with evidence of community transmissions, such as Riverside County, and in particular, the Coachella Valley, that organizers should cancel or postpone non-essential events. Especially, events that are primarily for or attended by older adults and people with chronic medical conditions that are at a higher risk for contracting the virus.
After much deliberation and based on the best public health policies, the Council has decided to postpone the State of the City scheduled for March 17th and will reschedule it to May 28th. Additionally, we have determined to cancel LGBT Days for 2020 in order to protect the health and safety our residents and visitors who are at greater risk for severe illness from this virus. We are also cancelling all “City Halls at Your Corner” until further notice. However, due to being outdoors and the ability for social distancing, we will continue the Movies in the Park scheduled for this Saturday, March 14th and on Saturday, March 21st in Panorama Park.
Please know that these steps were not taken lightly, knowing the economic impact it might have on local businesses. The decision; however, was made based on the best public health policies during a time when we are grappling with a new virus that has many unknowns as it continues to spread rapidly throughout the world.
I appreciate your attention and hope that all of you remain safe and healthy during these times.