(UPDATE: Despite officials’ concerns, today Shasta County was ultimately approved to progress its phase two reopening implementations.)
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This past weekend, organizers of the Mother’s Day Cottonwood Rodeo in Shasta County decided they weren’t going to cancel their beloved annual tradition. Instead, they opted to ignore statewide shelter-in-place orders and hold their event anyway. Local reports say the rodeo drew an estimated 2,000 people, a larger crowd than the event has drawn in recent years, which may have been a statement of its own.
“We have constitutional rights. We have inalienable rights given to us by God,” said one rodeo attendee in a KRCR-TV interview.
And while Shasta County public health officials strongly condemned gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic, judging by the footage below, wearing masks and/or social distancing were not on attendees’ agendas.
As you might guess, the rodeo fans’ act of defiance got some attention. The event was noted on Good Morning America and in other media round the globe. When Governor Gavin Newsom’s office got wind of what had happened, they contacted Shasta County officials to inform them that plans to open some local businesses could be delayed.
“The rodeo came to the governor’s attention and it has delayed full implementation of opening businesses back up here,” Kerri Schuette, a spokesperson for Shasta County’s Health and Human Services Agency, told the Record Searchlight.
Last week, Shasta County officials announced their belief that they had met the standards to earn a “regional variance” from the state which would have allowed some types of businesses to open sooner than they would in more urban counties. Those plans appear to be in jeopardy.
“I am not happy and the state isn’t happy and it’s impacting the approval of our variance,” said Shasta County Health Officer Karen Ramstrom as part of a scathing county release blaming rodeo organizers for delaying Shasta businesses from being allowed to open. “We’re all frustrated. 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.”
[Read the Shasta County’s full statement in the tweet below.]
Press release: A rodeo in Cottonwood on Sunday violated the governor’s stay-at-home order and has delayed the county’s ability to re-open retail businesses, restaurants and more during Stage 2.@CALFIRESHU @ShastaSheriff pic.twitter.com/yK4vOiolPz— Shasta County HHSA (@ShastaHHSA) May 12, 2020
Shasta County announced its first confirmed case of coronavirus in two weeks on Monday. County officials said the patient’s illness was unrelated to rodeo activity.
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Below: Another TV news report on the Cottonwood Rodeo featuring a face familiar to Humboldt media fans.