CHICAGO — Chicago’s downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the South Side Irish Parade, the Northwest Side St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and the dyeing of the Chicago River have been postponed as a precautionary measure to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
The announcement was made during a press conference at Chicago’s OEMC Wednesday morning, held by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Governor JB Pritzker and local health officials.
The festivities were all scheduled to be held this weekend.
The city said they will work with organizers to reschedule the St. Patrick’s Day events to a later date.
“Without being able to exercise social distancing, it’s a little difficult in those circumstances to have, for example, personal sanitation stations,” said Lightfoot.
The decision to postpone the parades follows guidance and information from public health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We, as elected leaders, cannot take any chances when it comes to the health of our residents. This was the right call,” said Pritzker.
Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities draw thousands of attendees annually, both from outside the city and across the country — offering few opportunities for attendees to practice “social distancing,” according to the mayor’s office.
“We need everyone in Chicago, and Illinois, to stay home if you are sick,” said Dr. Allison Arwady from the Chicago Dept. of Public Health. “People over the age of 60, we need you to limit unnecessary exposures to large numbers of people.”
“The reality is we are not shutting down the city or the state, but we want people to be smart,” said Lightfoot.
The City of Naperville announced Wednesday they are also canceling their St. Patrick’s Day Parade and 5K run scheduled for Saturday, March 14. Naperville city officials said they will work with the organizers to find a possible date to hold these events in the future.
Eight additional cases of coronavirus were announced Tuesday, bumping the total case count in Illinois to 19.
This includes the first two cases of COVID-19 to be confirmed outside of Cook County; a male in his late teens from McHenry County and a woman in her 60s from Kane County.
The other six patients are in Cook County, and all eight additional cases of coronavirus are in isolation either at home or in the hospital and said to be stable.
Pritzker also said he’s unhappy with the way the federal government has handled things so far.
“Let me be clear about one thing. I am very frustrated with the federal government,” the governor said. “We have not received enough tests. We have tests. We are testing. We would like to be able to test anyone that shows signs that they might need to be tested.”
Health officials said that social distancing is key to helping slow down the spread of the virus.
Those 60-years-old and up, or with underlying health issues, are encouraged to stay away from large gatherings.