Amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic, new measures are being taken worldwide in an attempt to limit the spread of the deadly virus that has already infected over 133,000 people worldwide and claimed nearly 5,000 lives since the first documented case in Wuhan, China in December 2019, according to the World Health Organization.
Washington's King, Snohomish and Pierce counties have already taken measures to limit public social gatherings to 250 people or less, and now Oregon and California are set to follow suit. Governor Kate Brown of Oregon has decreed that all non-essential group activities - essentially everything outside of public school - will be cancelled for the next four weeks, at least. This means sporting events, concerts, and other large public gatherings will not take place during that time frame.
California is taking the same measures, and has added that social gatherings of less than 250 people should still exercise caution and keep a distance of at least six feet between people at those gatherings. This statement, however, is not an official mandate, meaning that organizers can still choose to ignore the suggestion, but it isn't likely that they will.
Large festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach in California have already been cancelled for days, and now touring artists like Post Malone and Tame Impala are canceling their stops in the state as well.
Oregon and California's new policies will surely have an effect on the economy and public institutions at a local, national, and international level, but it's still unclear as to how big of an impact there will be. The policies are being enacted for public safety, and while many believe that the COVID-19 pandemic's most severe impact is on the elderly, it's important to note that the rapid spread of the virus is not only a threat to personal health, but to public resources.
Its effects could incapacitate entire countries' healthcare systems, leaving healthcare professionals unable to operate effectively. Italy's Lombardy region has already seen those effects, as healthcare facilities have reached capacity, leaving professionals with difficult choices on which patients to admit.
The new measures being taken by states like California, Oregon, and Washington are being enacted to limit those difficulties, and hopefully reach some sort of successful containment for the spread of COVID-19. Exercising proper hygiene and hand washing, in addition to social distancing, will help with that containment.