By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Soccer matches in Italy are being played in empty stadiums. The SXSW music, film and tech festival in Austin, Texas is canceled. Even Olympic organizers are keeping a close eye on the spread of COVID-19 ahead of the summer games in Toyko.
But one of Central Oregon’s biggest annual events will go on as scheduled.
That word Friday from Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Show organizers and the Deschutes County Fairgrounds.
The health and safety of all visitors, guests, participants and staff is a top priority, according to a statement issued today by the Deschutes County Fair & Expo and the Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Show.
Event organizers say they are monitoring the impact of COVID-19 in the area and are in close contact with health partners. But as of now, the show will be held as planned March 12-15.
The Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Show will be a test of sorts for a large gathering of people during a time of elevated concerns about coronavirus.
With about 20,000 people coming through the gates, the show is the second-largest event at the fairgrounds, trailing on the Deschutes County Fair itself in terms of attendance.
Based on recommendations of local, state, and federal health authorities, fairgrounds staff will increase cleaning and disinfection across high-volume common areas.
And they will encourage show participants and attendees to keep at least 6 feet away from someone who is coughing or sneezing.
“We’re using a lot of hand sanitizer obviously. The stores are sold out. Toilet paper seems to be a big issue for people so that’s mostly gone from stores,” said Eric Sande, Redmond Chamber of Commerce executive director. “Really we are just seeing people being very conversational about it, concerned about it and taking the necessary precautions.”
Out of an abundance of caution, Sportsmen’s Show organizers are asking show vendors, fairgrounds staff and attendees who are feeling ill to remain at home until they are fully recovered.
But so far, so good.
Neither the Bend or Redmond Chambers of Commerce report any noticeable differences in local business activity.
“We are keeping our eyes and ears open. That’s the one thing the chamber does the best,” Sande said. “We have a lot of people out in the community. If something goes sideways we hear about it and we inform our other members.”
Given that the Centers for Disease Control and other health agencies have not issued travel restrictions into Oregon, or from cities that any of the known sportsmen show vendors are coming from, the show is scheduled to continue for four days next week.
Event organizers say should travel restrictions change or known transmissions of COVID-19 or other diseases occur, they will reconsider but for now, the show will go on.