Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Parade has been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. On Wednesday morning, as the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases climbed to 19, the parade's organizing committee confirmed on its website that the annual festivity that was scheduled for March 14 had been canceled.
Two other parades in the city – the South Side Irish Parade, to be held Sunday, and another parade in the same area – have also been postponed, Mayor Lori Lightfoot confirmed in a news conference. The dyeing of the Chicago River will be rescheduled for a later date.
"The health and safety of Chicago's residents will always be our highest priority and like many other cities across the nation and globe, we are postponing this year's parade as a precautionary measure to prevent any additional spread of COVID-19," Lightfoot said in a statement, local outlet Fox 32 reports.
The news comes after officials on Monday said that there were no current plans to cancel the festivities, despite the canceling of Boston's St. Patrick's Day Parade that same day and the confirmation of four new cases in Illinois that day, which brought the total number of cases in the state to 11.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and others had encouraged cancelling the events out of fear that such large gatherings, which draw thousands of people, would increase the likelihood of "community spread."
"As you saw, Boston and Dublin have both canceled their St Patrick's Day celebrations," Pritzker said Tuesday. "I want to keep people safe and I think we've got to follow the guidance that medical experts give us."
Large gatherings across the globe have been called off as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with St. Patrick's Day parades in Dublin, Cork and elsewhere all being cancelled. Meanwhile, several movie release dates have been pushed back and organizers of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival confirmed Tuesday that the festival, which was set to take place on April 10 to 12 and April 17 to 19, will be postponed until Oct. 9 to 11 and Oct. 16 to 18.
The postponements and cancellations come amid growing concern over the spread of COVID-19. More than 1,000 people in the United States have tested positive for the illness as of Wednesday morning, CBS News reported, with at least 32 people dead from the illness. The cases have been reported in a total of 37 states, 15 of which have declared emergencies, and Washington D.C.