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The County Was Cleared to Reopen. Then Came the Rodeo

They should have held their horses
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2020 4:59 PM CDT

(Newser) – The reopening of Shasta County, California has been delayed because thousands of residents attended a rodeo before the coronavirus had been corralled. Authorities say the county had met the state's criteria for a Stage 2 reopening—which would have allowed retail stores, dine-in restaurants, and other businesses to reopen—before the Cottonwood Mother's Day Rodeo went ahead Sunday despite the ban on mass gatherings. The event attracted around 2,000 people, many of whom did not wear face coverings or adhere to social distancing guidelines. County Health and Human Services Agency spokeswoman Kerri Schuette tells the Redding Record Searchlight that the reopening was postponed after Gov. Gavin Newsom found out about the rodeo.

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California has banned gatherings like the rodeo until Stage 4 of reopening, which could be many months away. The county says the rodeo organizer refused to cancel the event. "We’re all frustrated," says Health Officer Dr. Karen Ramstrom. "It was inappropriate and it put the community at risk of disease transmission among attendees and the people they are in contact with, which could include vulnerable people who did not attend." Rodeo attendees said they felt it was safe to go to the rodeo after being "cooped up for months" and they believed they had support from local law enforcement. "We have constitutional rights. We have inalienable rights given to us by God," rodeogoer Don Johnson told KRCR. (Read more California stories.)

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