Coronavirus cancels events, changes worship in South Sound

VIDEO: Coronavirus cancels events, changes worship

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. — The coronavirus is forcing people to change the way they worship.

There hasn’t been a confirmed COVID-19 case in Thurston County, but many people are being proactive.

Organizers at Temple Beth Hatfiloh canceled their popular fundraiser, Blintzapalooza.

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"It is unprecedented, it’s heartbreaking, but, again, the safety of our community is paramount,” said Allyson Brooks, vice president the board of Temple Beth Hatfiloh.

Every year, thousands come through the temple doors to buy bagels, blintzes and books. Money raised goes to local nonprofits.

This year, organizers worried about the risk.

"We have a lot of people who come who are over 60, and we are very concerned with the seniors, particularly, with the virus,” said Brooks.

Blintzapalooza is not the only event on the chopping block because of COVID-19.

The city of Lacey scratched Saturday’s Cultural Celebration at Saint Martin’s University because vendors and performers dropped out.

"We didn’t have a viable event that we could produce for the public,” said Jen Burbidge, Lacey Department of Parks and Recreation director.

The free event, full of music and dance, draws 5,000 to 7,000 people every year. It’s been held in Thurston County for nearly 30 years.

This is the first event the Lacey has ever canceled.

"There’s been no recommendation to cancel events, but some people just feel uncomfortable going to gatherings, and so we definitely want to honor and respect those decisions,” said Burbidge.

At First Christian Church in downtown Olympia, changes are coming, too.

Staff are deep-cleaning and sanitizing the building.

On Sunday, they will use single-serve cups for communion.

“We will be doing things a little bit differently. The deacon that will be setting up will be gloved, and they will be cutting the bread and putting it into separate individual places where nobody has to touch anybody’s else’s bread or their little cup of juice,” said Mary Ybarra, First Christian Church office administrator.

Passing of the peace won’t be part of service.

"We’re encouraging folks to use other ,non-physical ways to show love and affection for each other. We can look at each other and say, ‘May the peace of Christ be with you,’ and not actually shake hands,” said Ybarra.

Despite not holding its annual fundraiser, Temple Beth Hatfiloh will collect donations. Anyone who’d like to contribute can send a check to the synagogue with “Blintzapalooza,” on the memo line.