EDITOR'S NOTE: This list will be updated as additional cancellations are announced.
OKANOGAN — Gov. Jay Inslee announced the mandatory, month-long closure of all kindergarten through 12th grade schools, public and private, statewide as of Tuesday, March 17, and lasting through at least April 24.
He said he is restricting activities at colleges, saying there would be no in-person courses through that date. Labs and clinics can continue if social distancing is imposed, he said.
His ban on group gatherings larger than 250 people also is extended statewide, he said Friday, March 13.
Many groups in Okanogan County already were erring on the side of caution and are canceling or postponing their events because of coronavirus concerns.
Nationally, the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and XFL have suspended their seasons, and Major League Baseball halted spring training and pushed back opening day by at least two weeks. The NCAA tournament also has been canceled.
Numerous other non-sports events have been canceled or postponed.
Locally, no cases of coronavirus have been confirmed, although one individual was tested. That test came back negative.
Some local events are being canceled or postponed, and some venues are closed, while other groups are soldiering on their events.
The Okanogan County Public Utility District said it is closing its auditorium to public use, including PUD-hosted events.
“As a power utility, the Okanogan County PUD provides critical services to homes, schools, hospitals – everyone,” said the utility’s announcement. “Therefore, in an abundance of caution to minimize exposure to COVID-19 (coronavirus) for both staff and community, the district has decided to close its auditorium.”
PUD offices remain open, but the utility urges people to sign up for SmartHub to make payments electronically, either online or via a smartphone app. Customers also can pay by phone by calling 833-890-9505.
Similarly, by direction of the Omak School District, the Omak Performing Arts Center is closed until current COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
“This (closure) impacts a number of scheduled performances and disappoints a multitude of performers,” said a district statement. “However, life safety must be the first consideration.”
“This keeps a limit on exposure and contamination, allowing our staff to keep our facilities safe,” said Superintendent Erik Swanson. “The PAC closure is also in response to eliminating crowds at the 250 or greater threshold.”
The district also is closing all events that bring the community into the schools,” such as clubs, religious groups, book fairs, dances, fundraisers and so on,” said the district.
Those changes will be observed until restrictions are lifted.
As of information available Friday to The Chronicle, SAT testing and the FFA trapshoot, both planned today, March 14, will proceed as planned, as will outdoor sports.
The Okanogan School District also is closing its facilities to outside users and canceling some programs.
Canceled are open gym, AAU practice, kid wrestling practice and JamRoom.
In Oroville, meetings that gather the public inside district facilities are being canceled, said Superintendent Jeff Hardesty.
“This is effective immediately. Events that are canceled may be rescheduled as health advisories become available,” he said.
North Central Regional Library System has canceled all library events and programs through April 5, said Executive Director Barbara Walters. Meeting rooms are not available for community use, computers and seating may be reconfigured or limited to increase social distancing, and bookmobile service and other outreach services are canceled.
“You can renew materials for a third time, provided others are not waiting for the item,” said a library announcement. “As always, there are no late fines for returning items past their due date.”
Library branches continue to operate with standard hours. Mail order printed materials, ebook and digital audio books and magazines, and streaming videos and music remain available.
The job and resource fair planned for March 24 at the Lucy F. Covington Government Center in Nespelem will go ahead as planned, according to WorkSource.
Several groups are following advice of the Okanogan County Health District and other area health agencies, and are canceling or postponing their large events.
As of Friday afternoon, other cancellations and postponements include:
• Bite of the Methow. The Winthrop Kiwanis Club fundraiser was scheduled for tonight, March 14.
The group announced Thursday that it is postponing the event.
“We are honoring (the recommendation) and our commitment to public safety,” said club President Gary Erickson. “This development has come on short notice, and at this time we do not have a future date selected. The Bite is our major fundraiser and we absolutely plan on still holding this event.”
Tickets already purchased will be honored at the future date.
“We will not be refunding purchase price at this time,” said Erickson. “If this creates a financial burden for you, then please contact any Kiwanian, who will assist you in a resolution. Please bear with us while we take this step back and reorganize.”
He said the decision “has been very difficult on our valued food vendors. Please remember them and take an opportunity to stop in, say thanks and purchase what they sell.”
Vendors include Hank’s Market, Thriftway, LaFonda Lopez, Rocking Horse Bakery, Bluebird Grain Farm, Grange, Key Club, TOPS, Blue Star Coffee, Lookout Mountain Meats, Mazama Store, Old Schoolhouse Brewery, Sun Mountain Lodge, Three-Fingered Jack’s Saloon and Methow Valley Ciderhouse.
• “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Omak High School Pioneer Players drama club production was scheduled to open Friday, March 13.
The production, which students have been working on for the past 10 months, has been postponed.
• Washington State Nashville Country Star. The semifinal show, which had been scheduled for March 14, has been canceled. Contestants were urged to submit videos to show organizers.
“We had hoped it wouldn’t come to this,” said an announcement from organizers. “We have battled through snowstorms and other happenings in the past, but this virus did us in. Our final has also been canceled. When conditions improve, we hope we can continue our season. We didn’t want it to end this way.”
• Tonasket Community Cultural Center talent show. The March 14 event has been canceled.
• The sold-out Okanogan Athletic Booster Club fundraising dinner, planned Saturday, March 14, has been canceled.
“We are honoring (the health agencies’ recommendation) and our commitment to public safety,” said an announcement from the group. “This development has come on short notice, and at this time we do not have a future date selected. This is our biggest fundraiser and we absolutely plan on still holding this event.
“Any tickets you hold will be honored at the future date. We will not be refunding purchase price at this time. Please bear with us as we get organized.”
• Oroville Chamber of Commerce banquet. The event was set for March 19.
• Best for Women Fair. The March 21 event has been postponed.
“Under the strong recommendation of the Chelan-Douglas, Grant and Okanogan public health (agencies), the Okanogan School District requested that we cancel our Best for Women Fair event scheduled for March 21; therefore, we are doing so,” said an announcement from the group. “We will possibly reschedule to a later date.”
The group’s organizing committee plans to meet today, March 14, to discuss options.
• Friends of the Fair crab feed. The March 14 fundraiser to benefit the North Central Washington Fair has been postponed “until deemed safe by the local health authorities,” said an announcement from the group.’
The group will work with ticket holders to keep them updated of the reschedule date.
• “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Merc Playhouse, Twisp, is postponing the children’s theater production. The show was scheduled to run Mach 20-29.
No new date has been set.
“We will contact ticket holders for options on how to handle their purchases,” said Executive Director Missi Smith.
• Okanogan County Retirees’ Association meeting. The event was set for March 27.
• Okanogan Family Barter Faire. The May 15-17 spring fair near Tonasket has been canceled.