After positive COVID-19 tests of volunteer cuts outdoor Fargo fundraising event short, pandemic exposes challenges of collecting donations

COVID-19 has taken a toll on some local organizations' abilities to fundraise.
Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 6:59 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Jeremy Robinson says he’s on a quest to end homelessness in Fargo.

“That hurts to see, as much of a giving community this is and as many shelters as there are, it hurts to see all these homeless people,” Robinson said.

He moved to the area two years ago and Robinson said he and his family make a concerted effort on giving back. Yet, his mission was aborted when a volunteer tested positive for COVID-19.

His group Life Packages for the Homeless held an outdoor fundraiser Saturday in south Fargo that the volunteer attended.

Hello & Good Morning We've received information that one of our volunteers at our Brats for Bags fundraiser yesterday...

Posted by Life Packages for the Homeless on Sunday, September 20, 2020

They called off day two scheduled for Sunday.

“We had to cancel the event, like we’re not going to go out and risk anyone else just because,” Robinson said. “We’re not trying to hurt the community. We’re trying to help.”

The volunteer was previously tested for COVID-19, but didn’t get the results until Saturday night, according to the organization. They are asymptomatic.

Although Robinson canceled Sunday’s event, which was planned to be held at the parking lot of Thirvent Financial in south Fargo, most independent medical experts said the safest way to hold such an event is outside.

The guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have Robinson and others confused.

On Friday, the CDC said it was possible COVID-19 could spread through air transmission.

A couple of days later, the agency reversed course blaming the information on a website error.

“It is a virus of indoors and it is a virus of large gatherings. The biggest thing you can do is move your gathering outdoors. That’s the best thing you can do,” Dr. Avish Nagpal, an infectious disease doctor at Sanford Hospital, said.

Dr. Nagpal is also the medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at Sanford. He said it’s a good thing that the CDC is constantly updating and changing its policies.

“We cannot understand a disease process overnight. It takes awhile to gather all the data and make sense of it,” Nagpal said. “So every time we have new information, we revise our recommendations accordingly. This is healthy, this is not something we should worry about too much.”

Still, the doctor said wearing a mask and staying six feet apart are key measures for preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Fargo Cass Public Health told Valley News Live while it doesn’t have the authority to approve or deny an event, it recommends holding gatherings outside as opposed to inside.

If you’d like to assist Life Packages for the Homeless, here’s a link to the group’s Facebook page.

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