City of St. George cancels events with 500 or more people or a significant number of tourists

Top Stories

ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) — As COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to surge in Washington County, the City of St. George announced it’s canceling a number of events and sports tournaments to limit the spread of the virus and the number of tourists coming to the area.

David Cordero, communications and marketing director for the city, tells ABC4 News officials are not necessarily canceling every single City event or tournament run by a private entity at a facility but they are canceling events that hit one of the following two thresholds:

  • Anticipated participation of 500 or more
  • Significant amount of participation from outside of the area

The canceled events include: the Snow Canyon Half Marathon (Nov. 7), the Seegmiller Farm Harvest Days & Turkey Trot (Nov. 21) and Kick Off to Christmas & Santa Dash (Nov. 30), and others.

“It’s difficult, and we feel bad about the timing of some of these events,” Cordero said. “At this time, with our hospital under duress, we feel it is the responsible thing for us to limit where we can those that visit us.”

The Snow Canyon Half Marathon, planned for this Saturday, typically brings anywhere from 1500-2000 tourists to the area.

Southwestern Utah is averaging nearly 100 new cases per day, and the vast majority are concentrated in Washington County. On Wednesday, the 5-county region reported:

  • 139 new cases reported (6,880 total confirmed cases)
  • 154 new recovered (5,119 total recovered), 1,703 current active cases
  • 58 deaths (1 new, an Iron County man between the ages of 65-84 who was hospitalized)
  • 30 residents currently hospitalized with COVID-19

Last week, officials at Dixie Regional Medical Center announced that its ICU remains full and respiratory therapists and nurses from other Intermountain Healthcare hospitals are being transferred down south to meet the growing demand.

“We need help, and as a community, you can help us,” ICU nurse Heather Anderson said. “I’m asking the community to take this seriously. The small things we’ve talked about are a small sacrifice.” 

Hospital officials are urging the public to take simple steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 by wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, staying home when sick, and washing hands. DRMC medical director Dr. Patrick Carroll asked community members to get a flu shot and get tested if they have any symptoms of COVID-19 so they can stay quarantined and limit exposure.

“We will take care of every patient that comes into the hospital,” Carroll said. “We don’t want anybody delaying care because they’re afraid that there won’t be a bed for them.”

Looking towards the holidays, Dixie Regional Medical Center officials asked the community to consider forgoing traditional plans and instead of looking for creative solutions “as an act of love and charity to friends, family, and the community.”

“I have heard some reports that people don’t want to give into the ‘fear tactics’ and so, therefore, they are going to choose to ignore or downplay the recommendations from public officials,” DRMC ICU medical director Dr. Bryce Ferguson said. “I don’t look at it that way at all. It’s, ‘Hey, you know what? I care enough about you and my community and Heather, our ICU nurse, and her colleagues that we’re gonna find an alternative way to do this year.” 

This news comes just days after a group of several dozen locals arrived at the Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) building in St. George on Monday to protest the county mask mandate, according to a report by St. George News.

SWUPHD officials released a press release Tuesday afternoon asking the public to take personal responsibility to mitigate the risks posed by the virus. Staying home when you are sick is critical, keeping physical distancing to at least six feet as much as possible, washing your hands, and wearing masks all add up to reduce the chances of infection, the department wrote.

“Local, state and federal data has allowed us a clear picture of who is most impacted by this disease and helps tailor a better approach for prevention and containment. It is evident that those who are over the age of 65 are much more affected,” the release states. “Of those who are tested and are positive for COVID-19, the following is true: 28% of those over age 85 will require hospitalization.  21% of those aged 65-84 will require hospitalization, 7% of those aged 45-65 will require hospitalization, 3% of those aged 25-45, and less than 1% of those under 25 will require hospitalization.”

It continues, “80% of the spread of this disease happens from 10% of the cases. Most infections happen in families or social groups; about 85% of the time an infected person is able to identify who gave it to them. Sometimes people are exposed at work, when they travel, or in other situations – but that is the exception. The vast majority of transmission happens when two people are within 6 feet of each other for more than 15 minutes. This is a disease of close contact. Most cases are infectious for about 5 days starting 5-7 days after they are infected. The ability to rapidly identify those who are infectious, rather than those that are merely infected, is the question most important to public health.”

Click here to download the ABC4 Utah News app for the first alerts on your phone. Sign up for the ABC4 Utah breaking news and daily newsletters.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

How to Help During the Holidays

More Toys for Tots