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Southern Oregon Women's March postponed due to threat of coronavirus

Organizers of the Southern Oregon Women’s March have tentatively moved it to early October because it’s “too risky” with the threat of COVID-19.

“We looked at all the warnings from the governor on down, her state of emergency for all of Oregon and the increasing numbers of people who are sick with it, as well as the shortage of testing equipment, and now even the number of people in the high-risk category who can’t get tested,” said event publicist Mimi Pippel. “And it looks like it’s not going to get better in the three weeks until the event, so the board decided canceling is the prudent thing to do.”

Managers of another major event this spring, the Ashland Independent Film Festival, are having “intensive conversations all week about this” and will make their strategy public by Monday, says AIFF Executive Director Richard Herskowitz.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival is continuing as scheduled and is disinfecting audience and backstage spaces before and after plays.

“There would just be too many people moving around, women dancing, people breathing hard — just too risky. We didn’t think we could provide a sterile environment,” Pippel said.

The Women’s March drew 20,000 people in Ashland in its first year, 10,000 in its second year when it moved to Medford, and only a few thousand last year, when it rained, so sponsors decided to move the event indoors to the Medford Armory.

Pippel said the Women’s March group found they could reschedule the site and equipment without losing money.

They will announce the new date on facebook.com/WomensMarchSouthernOregon, said Pippel, and the upside is it will be only days from the presidential election, so people can be implored to “Vote Like Your Rights Depend On It,” which is the slogan of the event this year.

The Women’s March started worldwide Jan. 21, 2017, the day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated she said.

The actual date of ratification of women’s right to vote, contained in the 19th Amendment, was Aug. 20, 1920.

In a statement, OSF said it is doing all scheduled performances and programs and “is taking proactive steps to ensure the health and safety of our patrons, staff, artists and volunteers,” following the guidance of the Oregon Health Authority and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, detailed at www.osfashland.org/en/tickets-and-calendar/covid-prep.aspx.

OSF is acting to “maintain spaces free of contamination” and doing “frequent surface disinfection of all audience (and backstage) spaces, lobbies, restrooms and food service areas, pre- and post-performance.”

Any changes in OSF’s plans or protocols will be posted online. It also posts its policies for people wanting to change or get vouchers for tickets.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

The 2019 Southern Oregon Women’s March was held in Hawthorne Park in Medford.Mail Tribune/file photo