Dear friends and singers,
It is with great sadness – but also great confidence in the necessity of this decision – that we must tell you that we are canceling the Outer Cape Chorale’s rehearsals and May 2020 concert, due to the risks raised by COVID-19 (also referred to as the novel coronavirus). This was a unanimous decision of the OCC Board and Allison.
This will take effect immediately. The Thursday 3/12 rehearsal is cancelled, as are all subsequent rehearsals for the Spring season. We needed to tell you first, and we will be informing all of our partners and vendors over the next several days.
NOTE – to allow time for all our singers to read and absorb this announcement, we urge you to refrain from posting this information on Facebook and social media until Thursday. We understand that this is not something under our control, so we are asking for your assistance.
There is a great deal of uncertainty about COVID-19, and new information is emerging daily. We fully realize that we have incomplete information, as do all Americans at this point in time. We have had to consider current facts as well as projected trends. As of yesterday (3/10), CDC currently reports 28 cases in Massachusetts. Surprisingly, MA has the 4th highest case count per the CDC, behind Washington (136), California (110), and New York (40). The Mass Dept of Health is reporting 92 cases, including presumptive cases, with 249 people undergoing monitoring or in quarantine as of March 3rd. The limited availability of testing at this time adds to uncertainty about the extent of exposure. Earlier today, Massachusetts Governor Baker declared a state of emergency related to COVID-19.
It’s not possible to know whether these trends will continue or will abate soon. As a result, we felt a responsibility to be prudent and proactive for our singers and the community-at-large. Here are some of the key reasons we’ve reached this difficult decision:
- Our concerts are very large events on the Outer Cape – about 700 people at each concert. There is a strong possibility that, over the next two months, many such events may be asked to cancel. Even if we were not asked to cancel the concerts, it’s likely that our audiences would be substantially reduced as the public heeds the advice of many experts to avoid such large gatherings.
- Our rehearsals are the single largest regular gathering of people on the Outer Cape – between 100 and 140 singers each week. Our sheer size presents an increased risk of transmission, should any of us be exposed to the virus, even when taking the recommended precautions. With an incubation period of up to 14 days, it would be possible for one person without necessarily having any visible symptoms, to expose multiple others without being aware.
- Our singers skew older, with a majority of singers over age 60. People over age 60 and people with health issues (or their loved ones) are currently being advised to avoid gathering in large groups. There are a number of singers who have already informed us that they are withdrawing over these concerns, and others who are in the process of considering what is right for their personal situations.
- Taken together, these things would make it far more difficult to prepare for, and deliver, a quality concert.
- With the high probability that this decision would have become necessary in the next few weeks, making the decision now will allow us a more orderly way of winding down the concert preparations. It would be so very much harder once publicity begins rolling out, programs are printed, instrumentalists are committed, etc.
We considered the option of waiting until there was clear evidence of COVID-19’s spread on Cape Cod itself before triggering such an action. But, after a full discussion, we concluded that all the available information indicates that it is simply a matter of time until there are COVID-19 infections on the Outer Cape. Assuming that does happen, we would have needed to make the same decision in any case. As a large community organization, we have a responsibility to you, our singers, and to our communities. Delaying a decision could have meant inadvertently subjecting our singers and their families to unnecessary risk. By acting now, we can ensure that our activities don’t add to the problem.
The Chamber Singers are suspending rehearsals as well. While this is a smaller group, there are specific circumstances affecting the group.
No decisions have been made beyond the May concert; at this time we have had no discussions regarding the December concert. We certainly hope that things have stabilized and such precautions are no longer necessary.
There are many things that we haven’t fully worked out yet. We will share information with you as it becomes available.
This is extraordinarily difficult and saddening. We all treasure coming together to rehearse and learn each week and to perform in concert for our appreciative audiences. We hope you will understand this decision and that you will continue to participate in the Outer Cape Chorale when the risks have subsided and we can begin again.
With love and concern,
The OCC Board of Trustees and Allison