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Almost 4,000 Exposed: California Car Show Super-Spreader Event

What was expected to be a car show attended by under 100 people became a super-spreader event for the coronavirus. Almost 4,000 people showed up to view the cars displayed at the Loma Linda University Church in California. This was a charity event expecting about two dozen cars attending the car show.

Instead, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department estimates that there were almost 4,000 enthusiasts that showed up. That, combined with car owners not staying in their cars, had the potential to make this a super-spreader event for the coronavirus according to NBC Los Angeles. The original plan called for car owners to remain in their cars.

This was the perfect combo for a super-spreading Covid-19 event

Hundreds of drivers gathered with their cars in the Loma Linda Medical Center garage on Saturday night, Oct. 3, 2020, before sheriff’s deputies broke up the event | OnScene.TV

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The parking garage that housed the car show was packed with cars and people. Thousands of people in an enclosed area is the perfect combo for spreading Covid-19. The church ended up declaring the show a potential coronavirus super-spreader event and shut it down. But problems ensued.

With authorities shutting down the car show there was a traffic jam around the parking garage as attendees left. “We got some calls from some people who were trying to get to the Loma Linda Hospital for medical services,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Olivia Bozek. “They weren’t able to get there because there was such congestion and traffic gridlock.”

Loma Linda Hospital is the main hospital in the area so it is always busy there. And being a hospital it maybe should have considered the potential for congestion before, during, or after the show. If the exit had been confined to one street in one direction it would have diverted cars away from the garage in a single direction in a single area. That would have left other parts of the location free from traffic. 

Adding to the problems were the Sheriff’s issuing citations to attendees

Hundreds of drivers gathered with their cars in the Loma Linda Medical Center garage on Saturday night before sheriff’s deputies broke up the event | OnScene.TV

Adding to the problems were the Sheriff’s issuing traffic citations to attendees. Later, the church apologized for “complicating the work of the hospital, of campus security, of our county sheriff’s department, and the life of our neighbors. We failed to anticipate that the event would grow so far beyond what we had planned. We are still processing the details to better understand how this happened so that something like this does not ever occur again.”

Of course, it will take days and weeks to determine if the car show was a super-spreader of Covid-19. We know there is a lot of pent up energy to attend anything related to a car event, especially a car show. But just for that reason, it would behoove organizers and enthusiasts to hold off on making those plans. 

“When you start bringing hundreds of people, or in some cases, thousands of people together, those types of super-spreader events are what is helping keep us in the purple,” said Supervisor Curt Hagman. “We really want to get to the red and be able to be able to open our legitimate businesses throughout the county.”