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Holidays

Going to a New Year’s Eve party in California? Tool lets you calculate the COVID risk

in Holidays

Coronavirus cases are surging across the country as family and friends continue to gather during the holiday season.

If you’re wondering if you should attend a party to ring in the new year, there’s a tool to assess the risk of COVID-19 spreading at gatherings in every California county.

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers created a map tool that allows users to assess the chances of at least one person testing positive for COVID-19 at an event. Counties in yellow pose have the lowest risk while those in dark red pose a risk greater than 99%.

“You can reduce the risk that one case becomes many by wearing a mask, distancing, and gathering outdoors in smaller groups,” the Georgia Institute of Technology researchers wrote.

As of Dec. 30, California is among the states with the most red-colored counties regardless of event size.

Continue Reading on Sacramento Bee

Turlock’s Christmas Cruise proves more popular than anticipated

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The City of Turlock’s first-ever Christmas Cruise on Friday night provided plenty of holiday cheer for vehicles passing through — and some long traffic jams.

Community members, businesses and organizations were able to set up lighted displays at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds this year in lieu of floats after the annual downtown Christmas Parade was cancelled due to COVID-19. According to Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Allison Van Guilder, it is estimated that over 1,000 vehicles made their way through the Christmas Cruise which featured 33 festive participants.

“As we know, due to COVID, the traditional downtown Christmas Parade was cancelled. We believe the Christmas Cruise at the fairgrounds provided a safe alternative for those seeking holiday activities,” Van Guilder said. “Based on the feedback from those who experienced the event and the organizations who participated, we believe it was a huge success.”

Those who were able to make it into the event before the gates closed at 8:30 p.m. were able to experience a winter wonderland complete with machines blowing fake snow and Santa Claus himself. The Christmas Cruise was sponsored by Turlock Firefighters Local 2434, who were able to collect five blue barrels filled with food and toys for Turlock Together during the event.

Continue Reading on Turlock Journal

Despite pandemic, City and community offering Christmas cheer

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The holidays may look and feel different this year, but there are still countless ways to kick off the Christmas season throughout Turlock this weekend. 

First, a decades-old tradition will be replaced with a socially-distanced spectacle this Friday as the City of Turlock hosts its first-ever Christmas Cruise at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. From 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 4, carloads filled with community members will have the chance to drive through “A Night of Lights on Display” — an event that Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Allison Van Guilder hopes will fill the void left behind by the cancellation of Turlock’s annual downtown Christmas parade due to COVID-19. 

“The Christmas Cruise will be a COVID-safe holiday event for the community at a time when there are so few options available,” Van Guilder said. “We appreciate the businesses and organizations who are working hard on their displays to spread much needed holiday cheer this year…. We hope all who experience the Christmas Cruise will gain a sense of hope and happiness this holiday season.”

Continue Reading on Turlock Journal

Operation Blue Santa gets the green light in Turlock

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Between budget constraints, staff shortages and the coronavirus pandemic it seemed all but certain that Blue Santa would have to be shelved for the holiday season, but instead a can-do attitude among the Turlock Police Department is bringing the jolly ol' elf back to the community.

"It's been a lot of work and re-thinking how we could do this in a safe way, while also being fiscally responsible," said Erika Grace, a crime prevention specialist with the police department, who is helping shepherd the operation. "We think we have come up with a way to make it happen."

Operation Blue Santa started in 2012 with the mission of providing toys and donated items to children and families in need. Key components of the operation were school and home visits by Blue Santa and presentations on crime prevention and safety. It also relied heavily on volunteers to go out on shopping blitzs and gather for gift wrapping sessions. But this year, COVID-19 safety protocols made all of that impossible.

Continue Reading on Turlock Journal

Annual Christmas events in Merced County adapting to COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s the list

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With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, several holiday parades in Merced County are still moving forward with modifications.

At the top of the list, Merced’s annual Christmas parade will be a “reverse parade” this year, according Merced Recreation Supervisor Michelle Reid.

In past years, people typically lined Main Street to watch floats and performances make their way through downtown.

With the reverse parade, participants and their floats will be stationed along Main Street. Those in the parade will be wearing masks and socially distancing as members of the public drive past.

Continue Reading on Merced Sunstar

Giving Thanks During a Pandemic

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Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and like the rest of 2020, it is looking to potentially set itself apart from the “traditional” celebrations that many of us have come to know.

Both the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as Stan State president Ellen Junn have released statements recommending alternatives to the large gatherings typically associated with the holiday. Students now will be faced with the decision to improvise a new way of celebrating or to carry on with their original, non-pandemic impacted plans.

With the pandemic still continuing on, the CDC has released a list of recommendations on how to go about celebrating Thanksgiving this year. Some of the top advice that the CDC offers is to avoid travel, wear a mask when around others, and to minimize the sizes of gatherings in cases where gatherings are unavoidable.

Continue Reading on Signal

Community-wide lights tour aims to spread Christmas cheer

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As the community copes with the cancellation of its annual downtown Christmas parade, the City of Turlock has come up with yet another way for residents to spread holiday cheer despite these dismal times.

Homes, neighborhoods and businesses can share their Christmas spirit with passersby this winter by registering to be a part of the 1st Annual Turlock Holiday Lights Tour. City Council member Nicole Larson said that as she saw nearby communities promoting their own home decorating contest during Halloween, she thought the idea could be executed here in Turlock during the holidays and give the community something safe and fun to look forward to during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This year has created unique challenges for us all and has caused us to sacrifice some of our favorite holiday traditions. However, we can think of this as an opportunity to create new traditions!” Larson said. “...Every year Turlock’s festively decorated homes seem to get better and better. This is a fun way to show off their best holiday spirit through a community-wide competition. And who wouldn't want bragging rights of ‘Best Decorated House’ in town?”

Continue Reading on Turlock Journal

Health officials: Keep it small, short and outside for any Labor Day gatherings

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Last Tuesday, Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, gave an update about the state’s new color-coded tier system for reducing COVID-19 activity in a press conference.

Ghaly was joined by Dr. Erica Pan, the acting state public health officer, and they emphasized the importance of maintaining safety measures, including wearing masks, physical distancing and hand washing, to decrease the spread of the coronavirus during the Labor Day weekend to avoid the surge in cases seen after gatherings on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

Pan said for any gatherings outside of a person’s household, keep them small, short and outside, as those factors help to decrease the risk of viral spread.

Continue Reading on The Modesto Bee

With celebrations mixed, the Fourth of July is up to you

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With all of the traditional Fourth of July celebrations cancelled due to restrictions relating to the coronavirus pandemic, you’re on your own this year to celebrate the 244th birthday of America’s independence.

The popular Stanislaus County Fourth of July Parade in downtown Modesto has been cancelled by the Modesto Kiwanis Club because of state and county COVID-19 restrictions. Also, Turlock has called off its annual Fourth of July Car Show and Parade due to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ban on large gatherings was announced via a Facebook post.

Since aerial firework shows have also been cancelled, many will be having shows of their own at home with safe and sane fireworks. While booths have popped up around town where community members can purchase their own, Ceres Fire Chief Kevin Wise reminded citizens to be safe on Independence weekend, which he anticipates to be a busy Saturday night for his team.

Continue Reading on Ceres Courier

Best day to travel ahead of Christmas? Tuesday, forecasters say

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Planning to drive up the Grapevine or into the mountains this holiday week? National Weather Service meteorologist Kathy Hoxsie has some advice for you:

“Right now, just drop everything, head on up,” she said Sunday morning. “Or Tuesday should also be a good day to travel.”

That’s because the first of two storm systems this week is moving its way southeast from the Gulf of Alaska across California, due to hit Los Angeles County by late Sunday afternoon, Hoxsie said. About half an inch of rain is expected along the coast and coastal valleys through Monday, with up to 2 inches in south-facing foothills.

Continue Reading on Los Angeles Times

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