By Collin Breaux, Lillian Boyd and Shawn Raymundo

Organizers for the Festival of Whales announced Thursday morning, March 12 that the second weekend of events scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, March 14-15 would be canceled.

“In light of yesterday’s announcement by Governor Newsom and the California Department of Public Health advising the postponement or cancellation of public mass gatherings of 250 or more to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), weekend two of the Dana Point Festival of Whales has been canceled,” stated an email from Festival organizers.

Newsom announced on March 11 an updated policy on events in light of COVID-19. The state’s public health experts have determined that gatherings should be postponed or canceled across the state until at least the end of March. Non-essential gatherings must be limited to no more than 250 people, while smaller events can proceed only if the organizers can implement social distancing of 6 feet per person. Gatherings of individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should be limited to no more than 10 people.

The Dana Point Harbor and its businesses are open. For harbor information visit danapointharbor.com or call 949.388.3663. Whale watching trips will operate as scheduled.

A spokesperson for Ocean Institute stated that the Ocean Institute Fest 2020 Culinary-Music Festival will be postponed to coincide with the Tall Ships Festival on Sept. 11-12.

The 62nd Annual Swallows Day Parade—scheduled for Saturday, March 21—has also been postponed due to growing concerns about coronavirus, according to a press release from the City of San Juan Capistrano. The San Juan Capistrano Fiesta Association hosts the annual event. No rescheduled date was given in the press release.

The number of coronavirus cases in Orange County had increased to six as of press time, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency website. Four are presumptive cases and two are confirmed. One man who had coronavirus has since recovered.

The World Health Organization labeled coronavirus a pandemic. As worries over a potential coronavirus pandemic continue to grow, local medical and government officials are encouraging the community to remain calm, stay informed and, most importantly, wash your hands.

The City of Dana Point and its Emergency Services Division are currently monitoring activities relating to the COVID-19, according to a city statement.

To date there have been no reported cases of the Coronavirus within Dana Point.

“The City is receiving information from the Orange County Health Care Agency, California Department of Public Health, as well as our Federal Partners, and will provide direction should any be directed regarding the virus,” stated a city news release. “Currently, both the State and County of Orange have approved emergency declarations regarding the Coronavirus.

The County approved a Local Health Emergency Declaration on February 26. While Orange County does not have a COVID-19 outbreak, the approval of the declaration allows the County the ability to request additional mutual aid assistance from other local, State, and Federal agencies, in both resources and funding.

The State of California approved a State of Emergency on March 4, which allows the state, counties, and local governments to reserves, resources and assets that would not normally be available, and reduces and/or waives requirements local agencies would have to follow regarding declaring local emergencies.

HCA has established a Health Referral Line and is taking questions from the public about the Coronavirus at 800.564.8558.  Additional information can be found on the HCA website ocgov.com/gov/health

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