Cancel Gatherings of 50 or More, CDC Tells US as COVID-19 Spreads

The dramatic recommendation comes as Americans struggle to change their daily habits to stop the disease’s spread.

2 min read
A food truck vendor pushes his cart down an empty street near Times Square in New York, on Sunday, 15 March 2020.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday, 16 March, recommended that gatherings of 50 people or more in the United States be canceled or postponed over the next eight weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The dramatic recommendation Sunday night came as Americans struggled to come to terms with having to change their daily habits to combat the spread of the disease.

The CDC added that proper precautions should be taken at any event, including making sure people are washing their hands and not getting too close to each other.

But in a sign of the difficulty of striking the right balance, the statement from the CDC also said the recommendation does not apply to “the day-to-day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses.”

No One Is Immune

Even before the warning, parts of the country already looked like ghost towns, and others are about to follow as theme parks closed, Florida beaches shooed away spring breakers, Starbucks said it will accept only drive-thru and takeout orders, and the governors of Ohio and Illinois ordered bars and restaurants shuttered.

California's governor asked the state's bars and restaurants to do the same, but stopped short of ordering it. New York City, New Jersey and elsewhere are considering similar measures.

“The time for persuasion and public appeals is over,” Illinois Gov JB Pritzker said. “This is not a joke. No one is immune to this.”

His decision came hours after Dr Anthony Fauci, the federal government's top infectious disease expert, said he would like to see a 14-day national shutdown imposed to prevent the virus's spread.

“I think Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing.”
Dr Anthony Fauci, Head of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health

There is no indication Trump is considering such a move.


The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States climbed to 64, while about 3,500 have been infected with the virus that causes it.

The worldwide outbreak has sickened more than 162,000 people and left more than 6,000 dead, with thousands of new cases confirmed each day.

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