Skagit County, WA – Earlier this month, before strict social distancing requirements were in place in many parts of Washington State, members of the Skagit Valley Chorale were already taking coronavirus precautions. The group told singers not to attend practice or performances if they had even a hint of the illness.
The Choir group met on March 10th, 2020 for practice. The Chorale has around 120 members and around 60 people attended the practice. Of those 60 people, 45 have developed symptoms of the Covid-19 virus and 27 (so far) have tested positive. One of the choir group’s members has died, another has been hospitalized and several others have struggled to recover from the illness.
According to a statement to the New York Times by Ruth Backlund, co-president at the Skagit Valley Chorale, the group was monitoring public health guidelines at the time of the practice and many had asked people to stay home if they showed even minor signs of the illness.
According to the article, the group had gathered in rows facing a piano and a choir director. They were all in individual chairs and had space to keep one another separated. There was extra soap dispensers in the bathrooms for people to wash their hands, said Backlund. “Nobody was sick. Nobody touched anybody. Nobody shook hands. Nobody hugged everybody like you might do in a group. there was none of that.”
Skagit County Public Health Communicable Disease and Environmental Health Manager, Polly Dubbel, told the New York Times, “the case was a disturbing example of how contagious coronavirus can be and how it can spread among groups even when no one is symptomatic. It’s really too high risk for people to gather close together, this just really illustrates that.”
Since that time, Skagit County now has (3/26/2020) a total of 78 Positive cases of COVID-19, including 6 hospitalizations and 1 death.
Keep up to date on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) by visiting the Skagit County Public Health Website by clicking here.
About the Skagit Valley Chorale:
The Skagit Valley Chorale was founded in 1984 by Joan Penney with the support of the Skagit Valley College Foundation and has grown from its original 30 members to over 120 men and women dedicated to performing quality choral music.
Two annual concerts are performed in Mount Vernon at McIntyre Hall, which is considered one of the premier performing arts venues in the state of Washington. The “Heralding Christmas” concert is presented shortly after Thanksgiving and features classical and contemporary choral works along with a variety of seasonal favorites. The “Celebrating in Song” concert, presented in the spring, features classical choral works as well as a variety of choral music by contemporary composers representing the diversity of world traditions and cultures.
Membership in the Chorale is open on a non-audition basis to anyone wishing to express their singing talent and challenge their vocal skills. Placement within the Chorale is determined by a voice range evaluation. Current membership includes singers from Skagit, Whatcom, Island and Snohomish counties.