(March 13, 2020) With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in Maryland, the Delmarva Irish-American Club made the difficult decision on Thursday morning to cancel its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade slated for this Saturday, March 14.
As of Wednesday, March 11, there were 12 confirmed cases in the state.
“This was a no-win decision,” parade Chairman Buck Mann said in a press release. “We do not want to cancel the parade, but more importantly we do not want to put anyone at risk. Our hearts and our heads were conflicted, but in this case, the smart thing to do was listen to the guidance given by health officials and err on the side of safety.”
Mayor Rick Meehan, who is club president, announced on his Facebook page Wednesday that the city would be carefully monitoring the situation and that no events had been cancelled.
That decision changed after Gov. Larry Hogan held a press conference that same day, and announced that four new cases had been confirmed.
“All Marylanders need to understand and prepare that there may be significant disruption to your daily lives for a period of time,” Hogan said. “Local communities and cities should actively consider modifying, postponing or canceling mass gatherings.”
An Anne Arundel County patient’s case will be assigned to the state of Montana, as she lives part time there.
With such uncertainty, the club and city officials conferred with county health department officials and the governor’s office Thursday morning, and decided to mitigate potential spreads of the virus by canceling the parade, which draws hundreds-of-thousands of guests to the resort.
“We don’t want to overreact, but making sure that we are putting public safety first with all of the unknowns was the right decision,” said Jessica Waters, Ocean City spokeswoman.
The parade has been canceled three times in the past because of inclement weather, with the most recent cancelation in 2015.
In addition to the parade, the St. Patrick’s Day 5K on the Boardwalk on Saturday, March 14, and the St. Patrick’s Day indoor soccer tournament at Northside Park on 125thStreet slated for this weekend have been canceled.
The novel coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, has taken the world by storm since its initial outbreak in Wuhan, China last December.
Since then, it has spread to more than 100 countries and territories on six continents, and has infected close to 120,000 people.
More than 4,200 people have died as a result of the virus, largely in China.
In the United States, there are a total of 938 cases and 29 deaths, with 39 jurisdictions actively reporting cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as of March 11.
Symptoms of the virus mimic those of the flu or the common cold, with patients experiencing fevers, coughs and shortness of breath 2-14 days after exposure.
Reports so far find that most patients experience mild symptoms, however, older patients and those with compromised immune systems are at high risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
No vaccine currently exists for the coronavirus, but the CDC recommends properly washing one’s hands, not touching one’s face, avoiding large crowds and self-isolation for those who have contracted the illness.
For more information on the virus and the disease visit, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html