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Local health department advises non-profit organizations on COVID safety at large events

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 6:08 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Some annual events are getting canceled for the second year in a row because of the risk of COVID-19, which can come as a crushing blow to those non-profits that rely on annual fundraisers to function.

To keep attendees safe, some leaders look to local health departments for advice. Sam Jarvis, with Johnson County Public Health, said they’ve worked with several organizations as protocols have changed.

”They reach out to us, they know who to call. They’ve worked with staff throughout the entire pandemic,” Jarvis said.

Jarvis said they encourage a layered approach.

”In which cases and what areas are you able to implement wearing masks, physical distancing, certainly screening or having folks consider screening themselves before they attend,” Jarvis said.

That approach, Jarvis said, also includes reminding every attendee of the risks. With the risk of getting sick, comes the risk of liability.

Attorney Sam Jones said his best advice to those organizing large events would be to consider local and national recommendations. In a case where an event attendee was to take legal action after catching COVID-19 at an event, Jones said there would be a lot of barriers.

”Would jurors who have undertaken those sorts of activities believe that inviting people to an event where people are drinking or mingling, reasonable or unreasonable,” Jones said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends not holding large events and gatherings. It suggests people look at several risk factors before going to any event. Those include the spread of COVID-19, the setting of the event, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, and the ability to social distance.

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