Events postponed,cancelled due to COVID-19

by By Cristin Parker, Josie Fox and Michelle Dillon

Last update 3:13 p.m., March 12, 2020

As cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to pop up ever closer to home, numerous state, regional and local events and facilities are being canceled or closed to try and help prevent the spread of the disease.

As of Wednesday, March 11, the Cherokee County Junior Livestock Show & Sale has not been canceled.

“We wanted to say hello to everyone and pass along some very important information regarding the coronavirus,” show officials posted on the event’s official Facebook page. “First off let me just say that there are no plans to cancel our show. We want to reassure everyone that we are monitoring the situation and keeping in touch with our local Cherokee County Health Department as well as our elected officials and at this moment we do not feel the need to take such a drastic measure. This is an ongoing developing event so we do ask the public to be patient and rest assure that we are going to do everything to keep our community safe.”

Most of Cherokee County’s retirement and rehabilitation facilities are limiting visitor contact with their residents and outside activities at this time. No facility is on lock-down as yet, but officials continue to monitor the situation in preparation of making that decision. Officials of all facilities have been working to notify residents’ families and have signs posted at their locations, letting citizens know of their protocols.

Local healthcare systems also continue to monitor the issue at the local level.

“It is our best practice at UT Health East Texas to screen patients especially at this time of year for any communicable disease, such as the flu,” UT Healthcare East Texas rep Allison Pollan said. “We ask that any patient seeking care in our clinics and hospitals don a mask if they have symptoms of fever, cough or trouble breathing. In addition, our clinical teams and infection preventionists are following the recommended protocol set by the CDC. We remain committed to meeting our community’s needs for care while keeping our patients, staff and the community safe.”

CHRISTUS Mother Frances Healthcare rep Will Knous added, “At CHRISTUS, we have always screened visitors at our clinical points of access by inquiring about international travel to assess for various evolving infectious disease risks, including this one. If a patient meets the current CDC criteria and is exhibiting symptoms consistent with the virus, we will isolate the patient in a private room and take proper respiratory precautions to safely assess and treat them.”

Meanwhile, several events scheduled across Cherokee County, the region and the state have been rescheduled where possible or canceled altogether. Those include:


• The Alto Economic Development Corporation has canceled today’s Alto Health For All health and wellness seminar, due to the event’s keynote speakers’ employer’s response and action concerning COVID-19.

• The Cherokee County Master Gardeners Association has canceled its 2020 Spring Conference on Saturday, March 14.

•Dr. Chad Kelly, Jacksonville ISD Superintendent is in close contact with county Emergency officials and is following all CDC updates. At this time, we are scheduled to return on Monday as planned, although this is a fluid situation. Should those plans change, students, staff, and parents will be immediately notified. As a precautionary measure, we have requested for all staff members to report their travel information during spring break, and our campuses have been cleaned and empty during this week. Of course, we will continue to carefully monitor the situation and respond accordingly.


• UIL officials are allowing the upcoming boys State basketball tournaments to take place, but with limited attendance.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes and patrons is our number one priority,” UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said. “While we are saddened to limit the fans that can be inside the arena supporting their teams, it is crucial we take every possible precaution to keep participants safe.”

The daily procedures for limited attendance include:

Thursday, March 12 -- Normal schedule and entry for pre-purchased ticket holders with no additional tickets sold except for a limited number of championship game tickets for the winning teams on-site at the box office immediately following the semifinal games. Championship game tickets will be limited to 500 per school.

Friday, March 13 -- Normal schedule and entry for pre-purchased ticket holders with no additional tickets sold except for a limited number of championship game tickets for the winning teams on-site at the box office immediately following the semifinal games. Championship game tickets will be limited to 500 per school.

Saturday, March 14 -- Each school will be allotted 500 tickets to be sold following semifinal games and until the limit is reached. All-Tournament tickets will no longer be accepted on Saturday. Previously scheduled honor team presentations will no longer take place.

As this is a fluid situation, the UIL will continue to follow the direction of local officials to monitor this situation and will make additional announcements as needed.

• Oil Palace officials and the artists headlining the country music concert set for Friday, March 13 together made the decision to reschedule the event. New concert date is Oct. 17 and tickets for that date are on sale now.

• Tyler Junior College has extended its spring break through Friday, March 20. TJC students residing on campus need to be aware that the residence halls will officially re-open at 2 p.m. on March 22. Students who remain on campus at this time will have no access to dining services. If you will remain on campus, please contact Diana Karol, Director of Residential Life at or 903-510-2345.

College related air travel for employees and students is suspended at this time for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.

“These precautionary actions by the College will help limit potential exposure to COVID-19 and enhance our ability to protect the well-being of our community,” President Juan E. Mejia stated. “I thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these unique times, particularly as the situation continues to evolve.

“The health and safety of our college community is always a primary concern for TJC. However, we are equally dedicated to helping our students achieve their college and career goals. To that end, we are working diligently to ensure that this unprecedented college closure will not unnecessarily impact our students’ journeys.

“I thank you for your patience and cooperation with these measures as we navigate the times ahead.”

• The University of Texas-Tyler has extended its spring break through the end of Friday, March 20. Students will have one extra week of Spring Break. Creating social distance is one of the best preventative methods to slow the spread of COVID-19 and other pathogens.

Note: The schedule of accelerated MBA classes, BAAS and graduate 7-week courses (all online) will not change.

All classes will be held online the week of March 23. No face-to-face classes will be held on UT Tyler’s campuses in Tyler, Longview or Palestine from March 23-27. Faculty will be communicating with students over the next few days to let them know about online delivery.

Students who live on campus and are currently away for Spring Break, are encouraged not to return to campus until March 29. Students who remained on campus for Spring Break are asked to consider returning home until March 29. Students who wish to remain on campus at this time will have access to the dining hall. If you will remain on campus, please contact Dr. Jenny Waters, Associate Dean of Students, at

(Classes will be held at the Houston Engineering Center as long as our hosts at Houston Community College remain open. An additional e-mail will follow soon to HEC students with information.)

Large events in the near future will be canceled or postponed. At this time Homecoming 2020 and the East Texas Research Conference have been canceled. The Patriot Premiere campus visit event has been postponed. Commencement will continue as scheduled.

International travel is restricted.

“Because of the dynamic nature of the COVID-19 situation, a determination has not been made about class format starting March 30, but we are hopeful to return to normal operations,” UT-Tyler President Michael Tidwell said.

• Stephen F. Austin University officials are meeting at 3 p.m. today to determine what course of action that entity will take concerning COVID-19.

•"The Southland Conference has been monitoring the situation with the coronavirus very closely. The health and safety of the student-athletes, coaches, fans and other tournament personnel is of utmost importance. As a result, the Southland Conference has determined that the prudent course of action is to cancel the remainder of the tournament effective immediately," stated an excerpt on the Southland Conference Facebook page.

•Stephen F. Austin State University announces updates to class schedules.

"Given the ongoing global concerns around COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, we want to do our part to keep our entire campus community safe and to contribute to the management of this growing public health crisis.

We currently have no confirmed cases on Stephen F. Austin State University’s campus, but several cases have been confirmed in Texas, including East Texas. Moreover, a large number of our students and faculty are currently engaged in personal travel to a number of domestic and international locations for Spring Break.

Wherever you are, we encourage all members of the SFA community to be conscientious in following CDC guidelines for staying healthy.

Given the potential for exposure and CDC recommendations for social distancing, SFA has made the following decisions:
*Spring Break for students will be extended through March 17, with no academic activities taking place for students.

*Beginning Wednesday, March 18, all classes will resume in an online-only or other distance-education format until April 6.
*Faculty will be able to utilize March 16 and 17 to prepare to deliver classes online or in other distance-education formats.

*All staff will report as normal on March 16 unless notified otherwise.

The university will be maintaining a special call center at 936.468.3401 for questions:

March 12 until 7 p.m.

March 13-15 - 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day.

Our current plan is to begin in-person instruction again on Monday, April 6. We will closely monitor this dynamic situation and could possibly extend further the date for resuming in-person classes. Students will receive information from their respective colleges and faculty with details regarding how course work will be conducted.

*All on-campus events scheduled through April 5 will be canceled or postponed. Event planners will be contacted by the reservation specialist starting on Monday, March 16.
* Showcase Saturday, scheduled for March 28, will be rescheduled. Campus tours may still be provided, but will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
*Student athletes will receive additional clarification related to team activities from the Athletics Department and their coaches.

*In order to catch up on lost class time, Easter break will be canceled, and classes will be held April 9, 10 and 13.

*Students are asked to remain off campus until in-person classes resume.

Information for Residence Hall students

*Any student or employee who is ill or who believes they may have been exposed to coronavirus cannot return to campus and should follow CDC guidelines for self-isolation. If any student or employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is requested that you notify the university at

*All university-sponsored student and employee travel, both international and domestic, scheduled for March 16 through April 1 will be canceled unless approved by the respective Vice President (domestic) or President (international).

May commencement exercises are expected to continue as scheduled.

These plans are evolving, and we wanted to inform our community as quickly as possible to enable you to begin making your own arrangements. We realize you may have questions that are not addressed here. Please know that our team is working diligently to accommodate this transition for our campus, and we will provide additional information as soon as possible."


• The city of Houston and the Houston Health Department ordered the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo closed Wednesday, March 11, after just a week-and-a-half due to coronavirus concerns. Refunds will be issued on tickets purchased via Customers who purchased tickets from other sellers will need to get any refund directly through that seller. StubHub and Vivid let customers choose between a refund or a coupon worth 120 percent of what was paid, good for up to a year on tickets for any future event.

• The city of Austin has cancelled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU.

“We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU,” event organizers said. “For our registrants, clients, and participants we will be in touch as soon as possible.”

Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, are urging Texans to continue taking preventative measures against Coronavirus (COVID-19) to contain the spread of the disease. The Governor and Commissioner urged Texans to heed the direction of health providers and public health entities, and asked that Texans take common sense, everyday action to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

“As the state of Texas continues to implement proactive strategies to combat COVID-19, we encourage all Texans to take precautionary steps to protect themselves and those around them,” read the statement. “Actions like washing your hands with soap and water, staying home when you are sick, avoiding shaking hands, and covering a cough or sneeze may seem like simple tasks, but they can have a tremendous impact to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health. We urge all Texans to adopt these preventative measures into their daily routines and to follow the guidance of their health care providers as well as state, federal, and local public health entities.”

•TSCRA postpones Cattle Raisers Convention and Expo

"Texas — Due to the recently elevated concern surrounding coronavirus, or COVID-19, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association executive committee today voted unanimously to postpone the Cattle Raisers Convention and Expo to fall.
“Our members’ health and safety is our top priority,” said Robert E. McKnight, a rancher from Fort Davis and president of the association. “While we’re disappointed we can’t continue with our plans for our late March event, we know it’s the right thing to do. We’re also excited we can still offer the same high-quality event attendees were looking forward to later this year.”
McKnight said the Cattle Raisers Convention and Expo will now be held this fall in Fort Worth, in an event that merges the convention with the association’s Policy Meeting. The date and other details will be announced next week once confirmed.
While details are still being finalized, registered attendees should know their hotel reservations will be automatically cancelled. Refunds will be processed by the individual hotels within two to three weeks.
Convention registration fees can be carried over to the new dates or refunded in full. The association will contact registered guests within the next week to determine their preference. Exhibitors will also have the option of transferring their registration fee to the fall event or receiving a full refund.
More details will be released within the next two weeks as they become available.


• The National Basketball Association has suspended its season after Utah Jazz all-star center Rudy Gobert tested positive shortly before the Wednesday, March 11, game against the host Oklahoma City Thunder, according to ESPN. The NBA postponed that game right before tip-off after it learned the diagnosis, then not long afterward, the league announced it would suspend the season “until further notice” after the night’s slate of games around the country. Four other NBA games were played Wednesday night -- but one other, a tilt between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings in California, was called off because a referee assigned to work the game had previously worked a Jazz game, the NBA said.

• Major League Baseball officials have recalled scouts and canceled future travel plans, according to ESPN, who also reported various “high-level MLB executives” are participating in a call Friday to discuss plans for the season, which is currently slated to begin on March 26.

• The National Hockey League said Thursday, March 12 it is urging teams to cancel practices and morning skates.

• On Wednesday, March 11, President Donald Trump announced he is sharply restricting passenger travel from 26 European nations to the U.S. and moving to ease the economic cost of a viral pandemic that is roiling global financial markets and disrupting the daily lives of Americans.

Trump made the announcement during a rare Oval Office address to the nation that he is suspending all travel from Europe to the U.S. for 30 days beginning at 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 13. After days of playing down the threat, he blamed Europe for not acting quickly enough to address the novel coronavirus and claimed that U.S. clusters were “seeded” by European travelers.

“We made a lifesaving move with early action on China,” Trump said. “Now we must take the same action with Europe.”

Trump said the restrictions won’t apply to the United Kingdom, and there would be exemptions for “Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings.” It also wouldn’t apply to cargo. He said the U.S. would monitor the situation to determine if travel could be reopened earlier.