ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The Saint Patrick's Day parade in downtown St. Louis will be postponed as concerns grow over the the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The decision follows similar choices in cities like Chicago and Boston where they canceled their festivities.
There are two parades for the holiday in St. Louis, a downtown parade scheduled Saturday and a Dogtown parade scheduled Tuesday. Both of them have beenpotponed.
Both annually attract thousands of attendees that line the streets, and as lawmakers across the country issue orders banning large groups of people, the parades have become a point of focus.
The decision to postpone was announced Wednesday. Parade organizers posted a statement that read, in part:
"With a heavy heart, amidst growing concerns about the spread of Coronavirus, our Committee has reluctantly decided we must POSTPONE our events. There will be no Run and no Parade downtown on March 14, 2020. We do look to reschedule these events, and the private parties that accompany our weekend, likely as part of our September Halfway-To-St. Pat’s celebration. We make this decision based upon the best information currently available, and we know that St. Louis will support us in this.
The Committee does not take lightly our decision to postpone these events, as we are sure to disappoint many people and we incur significant financial obligations in doing so. We apologize to our loyal participants and supporters, and we look forward to rescheduling the celebration soon!"
Mayor Lyda Krewson praised the decision in a tweet, saying as frustrating as canceling large events is, "we can't take any chances."
A spokesperson from the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the group that puts on the Dogtown parade, said a committee of about a dozen volunteers will meet Wednesday night to discuss options.
They'll then meet with city leaders Thursday afternoon.
They're discussing everything from canceling the more than mile-long parade, to potential modifications.
Speaking from Washington D.C., Missouri Senator Josh Hawley said decisions to cancel should be up to the local officials around the country.
“I suspect that what happens in New York or Washington State looks different than what happens in Missouri right now given the number of cases,” Hawley said. “But this is a rapidly changing situation, very dynamic, and I would urge state and local health authorities to stay on top of it and err on the side of caution.”
However, top federal health officials warn even those in areas of the country where there are no or few cases have to change behavior.
“That's why we talk about making mitigation or containment in a much more vigorous way,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “People ask, ‘Why would you want to make mitigation if we don't have any cases?’ That's when you do it."
The St. Patrick's Day Parade in Chicago and Boston were canceled due to health concerns.