An estimated 10,000 LGBTQ people partied at the Winter Party in Miami, which was held as scheduled in Miami despite public health warnings to limit or cancel large gatherings of people to stop the spread of the disease. The coronavirus has been labeled a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.
And one party-goer just tested positive for COVID-19.
The global coronavirus pandemic is spreading, thousands are dying all over the world, and cities and entire countries are going into lockdown to stop the spread of the virus.
The Winter Party is one of the highlights of the LGBTQ dance party circuit. It has been held annually since 1994 and is a fundraiser for the National LGBTQ Task Force, and this year it was held from March 4 through 10.
“I am writing to let you know that on Saturday night, I was informed that one of our Winter Party Festival guests has tested positive for COVID-19 this last week,” wrote Task Force President Rea Carey in a statement posted to Instagram last night.
“We are grateful to them for alerting us, particularly given that they were not experiencing symptoms during [the Winter Party],” she continued. “While we know there are many places people could have been exposed before and after Winter Party as this virus has developed, we wanted to make sure you have this information as soon as possible.”
Carey wrote that “information and circumstances have changed rapidly” since the Winter Party ended last week and that the organization encourages people to “practice social distancing, wash hands with soap, use hand sanitizer and contact their doctor if they think they are exhibiting symptoms.”
It wasn’t until March 15 – several days after the end of the Winter Party – that the CDC flatly recommended canceling or postponing events of over 50 people for the next eight weeks. But the CDC was already asking event organizers to take aggressive action to stop the spread of the virus well before then.
CDC guidelines suggest limiting large group gatherings and defined “large” as over 250 people. It also suggests that events that involve travel from all over the country present a greater risk of spreading the virus than those that are only for locals. The CDC also notes that the virus is most easily spread during close contact; that is, when people spend time within six feet of one another.
Carey wrote that precautions were taken at the Winter Party, like “educational posters” that were posted at venues and bottles of hand sanitizer that were distributed.
Still, the event involved a large group of people from all over the country in close quarters for hours on end, dancing shirtless and engaging in other activities that likely made people less conscientious about hand sanitizer.
The Miami Herald notes that at the time the Winter Party started, several other events in Miami had already been canceled, including the Ultra Music Festival, Calle Ocho Festival, and HistoryMiami Museum’s Map Fair.
This week, Miami-Dade County announced several measures to prevent the spread of the virus will be taken, including closing bars and restaurants at 11 p.m. The county will also close down beaches in order to prevent Spring Break events.
View this post on Instagram
Greetings Winter Party Guests, I am writing to let you know that on Saturday night (the 14th), I was informed that one of our Winter Party Festival (WPF) guests has tested positive for COVID-19 this last week. We are grateful to them for alerting us, particularly given that they were not experiencing symptoms during WPF. While we know there are many places people could have been exposed before and after Winter Party as this virus has developed, we wanted to make sure you have this information as soon as possible. The health and safety of anyone who participates in any Task Force event is of great importance to us. Information and circumstances have changed rapidly since WPF. We continue to encourage all WPF guests to monitor their health, practice social distancing, wash hands with soap, use hand sanitizer and contact their doctor if they think they are exhibiting symptoms. If you test positive for COVID-19, please contact those you were in direct contact with so they can take steps to monitor their health and speak with their doctors. More information from the CDC can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html Given what we knew at the time about the virus prior to WPF and working with local Miami Beach officials, we took steps to ensure the safety of attendees. The educational posters throughout WPF venues and 10,000 hand sanitizers we distributed over the weekend were both appreciated and utilized by attendees. Again, please take care of yourselves and if you test positive for COVID-19 in the couple of weeks, please feel free to email me at [email protected] – Rea Carey, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force