Voccio: Events such as parades or other large gatherings, where social distancing can be an issue, ‘pose the highest risk.’ In light of the Rome parade committee’s decision, and that of the Calhoun community, we asked Dr. Gary Voccio, health director, Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District, about such gatherings amid the pandemic. His response follows:
“Parades, as much as we love them, are problematic. As with any gathering, even an open-air event such as a parade, the more people an individual interacts with and the longer the interaction lasts, the higher the risk becomes of becoming infected with COVID-19 and the virus spreading. Large in-person gatherings, such as a parade, where it is difficult for individuals, whether participants or viewers, to remain spaced at least six feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area pose the highest risk. Wearing masks at such events is strongly encouraged and could reduce but not eliminate the risk.
“Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, as well as where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. People who have been diagnosed with or have symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend any in-person festivities such as a parade nor should anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Neither should anyone at high risk of illness, including flu, or anyone who lives or works with people who are high risk of illness.”
Other community decisions: We’ve been in touch with parade officials in surrounding communities and their responses indicated that decisions on each will be made soon.
Media release: The Christmas in Rome Committee met Tuesday to discuss the 2020 Rome Christmas Parade. After careful consideration and upon consulting many people in the community, the committee voted to implement new guidelines for the 2020 parade which will be held on Dec. 1.
The committee stated that while upholding this community’s annual traditions during the Christmas season is important, the safety for the participants and attendees is paramount in its decision to implement the following guidelines for the 2020 parade.
- The parade will be limited to 40 units. These may be either floats or walking units. Units will be accepted On a first come first serve basis and applications will be accepted on this basis beginning immediately. Please disregard the deadline of Nov. 10 and get your applications in immediately in order to ensure a position in the parade. Applications are available online at www.romechristmasparade.com. You will be notified by Nov. 1 if your entry has been accepted.
- All floats will be limited to 10 participants. There is no limit on participants in walking units but social distancing must be maintained.
- It is mandatory that masks must be worn by all participants in the parade and masks are encouraged for all attendees watching the parade.
- The committee is requesting that there will be no temporary business licenses given for street vendors on the night of the parade.
- Unfortunately area school bands will not be marching this year. However, every unit is asked to provide holiday music from their unit.
- This year’s parade is to honor our community’s health care and public service workers who have been on the front lines of the COVID pandemic. It is our hope that the units will depict a holiday tribute to these individuals in accordance with our theme of “Heroes of 2020.”
- The Committee also plans to enhance their social media and TV coverage of the parade so more of the community at large can enjoy the parade from their own homes. We hope to have special interviews and additions to the regular coverage and a link to the parade will be available on the Rome Christmas Parade Facebook page.
- It is the committee’s sincere hope to make this year’s Christmas memorable for all while also ensuring the safety of its participants and attendees.
Background: The decisions by each community on Christmas parades will be the next thing watched as the pandemic continues. Already we’ve seen the traditional fall fairs canceled, including the Coosa Valley Fair which would have been under way this week. The following announcement was posted Sept. 30 by the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce concerning Calhoun’s parade. We have notes into other communities this morning regarding their respective plans: